JUST three days before Dunmanway was hit by floods, in an ironic twist, concerned residents of Chapel Street in the town met with two OPW officials to discuss flood defences by Chapel Lake.
For the fourth time in as many years, Con O’Leary and other residents on Chapel Street, last Saturday morning, found themselves battling to save their homes from flood waters.
Luckily, for Con, he was able to put down flood barriers that he had made himself in front of his door as up to nine inches of water gathered outside his house. He escaped flood damage but three other houses further up Chapel Street weren’t so lucky.
‘At around 8am we could see the waters coming down the street and I put the flood barriers down and it saved our house,’ Con told The Southern Star.
‘I had to really rush to get them in place as it came down so quick and rose to nine inches. The water did go into one house up the street and flowed in the front door and out the back door and did some damage. Thankfully, the fire brigade came on the scene fairly quickly and they pumped the water – which was dirty and brown and came from the mountain into the Chapel Lake.’
Both Con and local councillors are now calling for a submersible pump to be put in place of the manual pump to prevent further flooding incidents and for the OPW to maintain the sluice valves regularly as rubbish is constantly getting stuck there.
‘Then if the level of the lake rises to a certain point, this automatically kicks in and starts pumping the water out into the river and out over the embankment,’ said Cllr Declan Hurley.
‘If that isn’t done then the lake fills up from surface water and that backs up into the storm water drains and into the streets and homes of people.’
He said the culvert that crosses under Chapel Street also needs to be increased in volume so it can take the capacity.
‘The flooding down in Chapel Street shouldn’t have happened if the right measures were put in place initially. It’s the fourth time they have been flooded and they’re finding it hard to get insurance now.’
Cllr Hurley said the maintenance of our waterways has to be a major priority for both Cork County Council and the OPW.
‘There is no point spending millions of euro on new roads when the river and streams or the drains and gullies in residential areas are not being cleared and maintained regularly.’
Other parts of the town suffered flooding as well including Castle Street and Woodbrook.
Meanwhile, Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) has pointed out that many of the residents on Chapel Street have lived there for most of their lives and in that regard they are fully au fait with how weather patterns affect the lake.
‘It is important that locals are listened to as they are best places to relay this information,’ said Cllr Kelly.
While visiting West Cork on Tuesday, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan met with some of the residents of Chapel Street in Dunmanway to discuss their concerns.