Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan visited Skibbereen on Friday to meet with people affected by Wednesday night’s flooding in the town.
A number of local businesses have had to undertake significant clean-up operations in recent days after floodwaters entered their premises during Storm Ellen.
The Eldon Hotel on Bridge Street, which was badly affected by the flooding, reopened its doors at 12pm on Friday after staff, family members, neighbours and friends worked tirelessly to clean the premises.
Manager of the hotel, Louise O’Donovan said a lot of work was needed to rectify the damage.
“Everyone was here cleaning and all the furniture, the chair legs, all the tables, the bathrooms, the stairs, everything had to be done.
“The floors will all have to be replaced, all the wooden flooring and even some of the tiles are lifting as well,” she said.
The hotel has “five or six” dehumidifiers in place.
Ms O’Donovan said that a decision to re-open was made after everyone had put so much work into the clean-up and said that a food order had come in on Thursday so “there was no reason not to reopen”.
The hotel closed at 7pm on Friday evening to allow for more cleaning of the floors and emptying of dehumidifier tanks.
Owner Eileen O’Donovan said that after the clean-up “the place still smelled damp and wet” but that the decision to open was also for the “the people in Skibbereen who live on their own" and for whom "the hotel is their only company”.
“You’d like to look after them too,” she said.
Cork South West Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said that the “clear message” from businesses in the town was “the town is open for business and there are lots of good food and retail on offer. They want to get the news out that yes, this was a disaster, but that the town has reopened, the flooding is gone and they are ready for road.” He said that there are also some businesses who are “fed up” and that the damage has been done after they were told it would not happen again.
Visiting the town, Minister O’Donovan was anxious to allay concerns amongst the residents and business people that the flooding “was not in any way connected with a failure in the main OPW flood defences now installed in the town”.
“I would like to assure the people of Skibbereen that I and my officials are fully satisfied that the main flood scheme is working effectively and has ensured that more widespread flooding and damage in the town has been avoided.” The Minister also said that his “heartfelt sympathies are with all those people and businesses that suffered damage on Wednesday evening”.
Cork County Council said it is currently completing works to construct a screen chamber at 'the Cutting' where it said the storm drain system was "overwhelmed" on Wednesday night "with the run-off overflowing onto Bridge Street causing flooding to a number of premises in the early part of the night.
Other areas in the county were still affected by flooding on Friday with Ring Village and Inchydoney Road affected during high tide.
Deputy O’Sullivan said: “The flood relief scheme in Clonakilty is a success I have to add, our flood scheme has been implemented and we faced heavy rain and high tides this week and stayed dry, but Ring Village was flooded and some residents believe it’s worse since the flood relief scheme was implemented in Clonakilty."
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar has announced that up to €20,000 emergency funding is to be made available for small business, sports clubs, community and voluntary organisations following this week's flooding.
In announcing the allocation, the Tánaiste said: "It’s been a really tough week for the people of Skibbereen and West Cork. This flooding is an enormous blow at an already difficult time. We are extending the Emergency Humanitarian Aid scheme to provide emergency funding to help businesses, community & sporting groups get back on their feet.” The original scheme was announced earlier this month to provide urgent funding to small businesses, community and voluntary organisations in the South West region who were affected by flooding due to heavy rainfall.
As a result of further damage caused by this week’s storm the Scheme is being extended to other affected areas and the closing date for applications will also be extended.
Senator Tim Lombard said: "West Cork has been really badly affected by flooding in the past seven days. This is a really positive allocation. This will go a long way towards helping those businesses which have been affected by Covid-19 and now by flooding."
Financial support is targeted at small businesses (up to 20 employees), sports clubs and community and voluntary organisations.
Applications forms for support will be available on the Irish Red Cross Society website: https://www.redcross.ie