SKIBBEREEN has once again been left counting the cost of delays in completing flood relief works.
In January 2019, Cathal O’Donovan, the long-serving secretary of the Skibbereen Floods Committee, told The Southern Star that four additional works needed to be carried out in tandem with the Office of Public Work (OPW)’s €18m Flood Defence Scheme if the town was to be fully protected against flooding.
He agreed that the 36mm of rainfall over a two-hour period in November 2018, especially as it was combined with Spring tides, proved to be ‘the first real test’ of the town’s flood defence scheme.
The flooding that happened on that occasion was in one of the areas that the flood committee secretary said needed to be completed if Skibbereen was to be ‘properly protected against flooding.’
Nineteen months ago, he called on Cork County Council to carry out these four flood relief works because the OPW’s scheme was designed to protect the town from being flooded by the Ilen River and its tributaries.
The additional works included The Cutting – which flooded Bridge Street in November 2018 and again last Wednesday, after drains became blocked and culverts could not contain the sheer volume of water.
The floods committee secretary had told the Council it was also obligated to carry out flood prevention works at Baltimore Road; the run-off from The Rock down Doctor’s Hill; and a drainage culvert at Cork Rd, a problem area that led to Fusion Home Interiors being flooded last week. This week, he confirmed that the Baltimore Road project has been finalised, but Cork County Council has yet to complete Doctor’s Hill and The Cutting.
He said the problem with the drainage culvert at Cork Road is the responsibility of both Cork County Council and the OPW, which is providing funding to the local authority as its agent.
He maintained it comes under the remit of the €18m flood defence scheme, and he also submitted it is also under the jurisdiction of Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
The committee secretary did, however, point out that the Cork Rd project is the final item on a list of 20 items in the OPW’s Flood Defence Scheme. He said that each of the other 19 measures ‘all worked successfully last Wednesday.’
At The Cutting in 2018, Council workers cleared the open storm drain during that deluge, but within 90 minutes, both it, and the town’s drainage system, had become blocked once again. The blockage resulted in water flowing over the top of the storm drain and down The Cutting, before taking a sharp left onto Bridge Street, as it followed the path of least resistance.
It ended up pooling up to five-inches of water at the lowest part of the road in front of the Eldon Hotel. There it lodged and flooded local homes and businesses until a storm drain in front of the hotel was opened by a Council official using a key at 8.30am, something that caused the surface water to subside almost immediately.
The rainfall that flooded homes and businesses on Bridge Street last week, measured 42mm over a two-hour period. That reslulted in the hotel and other businesses experiencing flood waters of up to 3ft in their premises.
It is believed that, once again, the huge new concrete sump at The Cutting filled too quickly with rubbish and debris tumbling down from the hill. Debris blocked the system, a system that was fitted the following day with a new grate that might have filtered a substantial amount of the debris.