Sunday 23 October 2016

Millions of euro of flood damage caused by Storm Desmond

Members of the Army bail out water from shops in the Ballybofey area of Donegal
Members of the Army bail out water from shops in the Ballybofey area of Donegal
A motorist gets stuck in a flood in the Castlefin area of Donegal

A massive clean-up operation in underway across Ireland after Storm Desmond, with the cost of the damage expected to run into millions of euro.

The west and south-west took the brunt of the storm's fury, with winds gusting to 120kph and upwards of 110mm of rain falling in less than 36 hours.

Initial Met Eireann data showed 110mm of rain fell in many western areas during the storm. The rainfall was worst in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Clare.

"The country took a real hammering," said a Met Eireann spokesman, "it was the sort of event seen once every 50 years."


Bandon in Co Cork, Lifford in Co Donegal and Crossmolina in Co Mayo were among the worst-hit towns. Large parts of Donegal were cut off from the rest of the State as Lifford bridge was closed and the Border crossing at Augnacloy was flooded.

In Limerick, hundreds of acres of farmland were under flood waters. Abbeyfeale GAA grounds were left under water while in west Cork the town of Bandon suffered its second disastrous flood in just six years.

One Bandon trader, Margaret Daly, fought back tears as she surveyed the destruction of her life's work. The premises that doubles up both as her home and her barber shop was left under almost 45cm (18 inches) of flood water.

Just down the road, it was a similar story for draper Frank O'Leary, who suffered €400,000 worth of flood damage in 2009 and now faces another flood damage bill.

The problem this time is that he doesn't have flood insurance. Both traders admitted they are fearful as to what 2016 holds in store.

Daly and O'Leary are also furious that, six years after the disastrous 2009 floods, nothing had been done to protect the vulnerable west Cork town.

"It is heartbreaking, just heartbreaking," a tearful Margaret said. "This is my house, my home, my business and, I suppose, a big part of my life.

"It is just devastating to see this again after 2009. I have been listening to promises about flood protection measures and they have all been broken. What happened on Saturday night was totally avoidable. I'm really angry over this - I have no flood insurance.

"We're almost at Christmas and it is a really busy time for me and the business. I have only this income - so what am I going to do?

"Something has to be done because Bandon cannot go on like this. The town will be gone. There will be grass growing up over the streets of Bandon if this continues."


Frank O'Leary's drapery business is one of the oldest in west Cork, and he said: "My floor is totally gone and a lot of the fixtures and fittings in the shop will be gone. We're 95 years in business. What do we do now?

"The last time we suffered over €400,000 in damage. I don't now what we are looking at this time but, unfortunately, we don't have insurance now.

"What makes me really angry is that this situation was totally avoidable. It is testimony to the inability of our representatives. They have been messing around for the past six years."

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