FOR the second time in three weeks, violent storms have wreaked havoc across West Cork, causing devastation in Bandon town centre once again, and flooding parts of Skibbereen and Bantry.
The strong winds and heavy rainfall caused roads to disintegrate and blocked access to towns and villages for several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bandon businesspeople used words like ‘destroyed’ to describe the state of the heavily flooded town at mid-day on Wednesday, while the emergency services in Skibbereen worked tirelessly to keep water out of more than 30 houses.
In Bantry, New Street was the worst affected. Water started to fill the street shortly after 7.30pm and just before 9pm it was a case of all hands on deck as businesses people mopped up the surface water in their properties.
The Orange Alert weather warning from Met Éireann turned to ‘a red alert’ in Bandon at 11pm on Tuesday night and by 6.30am more than 40 businesses were under water with the river still rising – traders reporting more extensive damage than they had experienced during Storm Desmond.
Storm Frank brought rainfall totals of between 40mm and 70mm over a 24-hour period, and was the sixth wind storm to affect Ireland in a few months. It also featured frightening 80km-100km per hour gusts that made driving hazardous.
Cork County Council played its part with road crews mobilised in many parts of the County. The Council also provided sandbags and flood defences, such as heavy duty pumping equipment, which, as was the case with Skibbereen, saved many houses from being flooded.
The cost of yet another clean-up operation is, however, expected to put further strain on the local authority’s resources in the coming weeks and months.
Drivers throughout West Cork were forced to play games of ‘snakes and ladders’ as one road after another proved impassable, particularly the N71 Bandon to Innishannon Road, which has been repeatedly closed due to flooding.
Earlier, on Christmas Eve, heavy rainfall caused flooding in many locations, including near the beach in Garrettstown, while in Ballinspittle holes appeared on the bridge over the stream at the edge of the village.
Carrigaline and Crosshaven felt the brunt of Storm Frank on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a fallen tree blocked a road in Riverstick near Kinsale.
There was also flooding around Beal na mBlath on both the R585 to Crookstown and Newcestown Roads, and the R585 at Crookstown was closed. Clifford’s landmark bar in the village of Crookstown was flooded, and was the nearby shop. Inchigeela also fell victim to the floods as many roads in the Macroom area were under several feet of water by Wednesday morning.
Wayne Lloyd’s hair salon in Bandon posted a ‘closed until further notice’ sign after being flooded, and Reen’s shop in the town was also hit again – for the second time in a few weeks, along with up to 50 other businesses.
Fish appeared on the street in Ballyvourney, having been lifted from nearby rivers by the ferocity of Storm Frank.
The high winds also resulted in several electricity faults with homes in Beal na Blath, Rosscarbery, Bandon and Macroom, among those affected.
However, more than 40 Dunmanway swimmers proved resilient as they crossed flooded roads the preivous week, to make it to their Christmas swim in aid of the Cancer Unit at Cork University Hospital at Inchydoney.