A MAJOR volunteer effort was praised for keeping the worst of Storm Frank’s flooding at bay this week.
Members of several voluntary groups, and locals who are not aligned to any group, were out in force on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning throughout West Cork in order to limit the damage.
Many people worked tirelessly through Tuesday night, once the reality of the flooding threat hit home.
Secretary of the Skibbereen Floods Committee, Cathal O’Donovan, paid tribute to the Garda Siochana, the Fire Brigade from Skibbereen and Schull, the Civil Defence, Cork County Council and countless volunteers, who helped to avert another flooding catastrophe in the town.
For a time, it looked as if houses in Townshend Street and Market Street, as well as the Marsh Road would be flooded, but a co-ordinated response saved the day.
Mr O’Donovan said: ‘Repeated floods has allowed each of these units to tweak and re-tweak their flood defence systems and their response times, and the work they did on Tuesday night and Wednesday was simply fantastic.
‘This time, the team were able to prevent flooding at Glencurragh and although the lower Mill Road was covered in water twice in the last few week,s the people living there were also spared.
‘It involved a lot of pumping of water, a lot of sandbagging and gravel being strategically placed, as well as a lot of bunding – all of which served to protect a lot of properties.’
Even with rainfall in Skibbereen catchment area of 42mm of rain over 12 hour period, and 58 mm in the larger Ilen River catchment area, Mr O’Donovan said the emergency response system has shown that they can cope with certain types of floods.
‘Although no two floods are the same, they were able to cope this week even though the ground was saturated, and the high tide coincided with the peak of the water coming down the river. Other variables in this week’s scenario also involved strong winds that blew the tide up the river and low air pressure that caused a tidal surge.’
Niall Twomey, the Civil Defence officer for Cork West told The Southern Star: 'It is a good plan. Everyone does their job and we stay one step ahead of the flood.’
The spirit of co-operation continues with the announcement that all of Cork County Council’s Civic Amenity Sites will be accepting flood-damaged goods, free of charge, for the next fortnight.
But despite their best efforts, the volunteers in Bandon could not manage to keep the force of the river at bay and the Red Alert issued by Cork County Council proved accurate as the main streets took their second battering in three weeks.
Fine Gael TD and election candidate Jim Daly said this week that he was supporting Bandon traders’ demands for a break from rate payments after the town’s main streets were destroyed by several feet of floodwater, just three weeks after the most recent flood event.
And Independent election candidate Alan Coleman called on Minister Simon Harris to extend the emergency flood fund saying: ‘The business people of Bandon have suffered enough. Their Christmas season was disrupted by floods and now their sale season has been disrupted as well.’
Fianna Fáil election candidate, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, called on the Government to ‘fast-track the flood defence schemes need for Bandon and Skibbereen.’ She also called for humanitarian funding, and additional EU funding for storm repairs.