URGENT action must be taken to ensure that future flooding in West Cork can be prevented, according to local residents, business owners and politicians.
The area has been hit by floods on several occasions in recent weeks.
On Monday night, Storm Francis brought with it heavy wind and rain which caused flooding once again.
Bantry and Bandon were among the worst affected areas, while flooding also took place at Dunmanway, Rosscarbery, Connonagh, Clonakilty, Drimoleague, Leap, Ballydehob, Passage West and Youghal.
As rain persisted throughout Tuesday, there were fears that some parts of the region would experience more flooding overnight.
West Cork Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said the recent flooding in West Cork is “deeply concerning”, particularly in light of the impact of Covid-19.
“There is an immediate need for the Government, the OPW (Office of Public Works), and the County Council to work with local communities in developing new and urgent flood management systems,” she said.
“Residents and business owners understand where the problems are in their area, and often have very simple, but effective, solutions.
“It is essential that the government be proactive on this before more storms hit,” she added.
Almost 50 properties suffered serious damage in Bantry alone where extensive flooding hit The Square, New Street, Bridge Street and Main Street.
Local Independent Councillor Danny Collins said: “It was pure and utter devastation for residents and businesses.
“Fifty premises were dealing with high levels of flood water, some two or three feet high.
“Money has to be sought for the culverts and the flood defence scheme as soon as possible,” he added.
“This has gone too far and people are devastated.”
Drinagh Hardware Store in The Square in Bantry managed to avoid the worst of the flooding but manager James Herlihy said the floods caused a lot of disruption in the town.
“Water came into our premises but there was no stock damage or electrical damage,” he said. “It came up very, very quickly and caused a lot of disruption.
“Around 15 to 20 businesses have been quite badly affected by it,” he added.
Local TD Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) called for a flood defence scheme to protect residents and businesses in Bantry.
In Bandon, intense localised downpours between 11pm and 3am resulted in flooding at Brady’s Lane and Bridge Street, which has since been cleared.
Local Senator Tim Lombard (FG) said the people of Bandon are angry and want answers.
“One of the key issues is to make sure that we actually get answers on why Bandon flooded.
“Is it the lack of works completed? Did the pumps not kick in?
“The traders and businesses in Bandon need to know exactly what’s after happening,” he added. Maggie Dwyer, manager of Self Help Africa charity shop on Bridge Street in Bandon, said: “Earlier this morning, the water came up to around four inches in the shop but then it receded.
“Our storeroom at the back is at a lower level and that flooded again.
“We had taken precautions by putting stock up higher but there was some that we had to throw out this morning,” she added.
“Last week, the pumps worked and we didn’t flood.
“The OPW have said they will find out why the pumps didn’t work this time.”
Ms Dwyer said it is “frustrating” for residents and businesses in the area who felt the pump system should have prevented this flooding.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Cork County Council said crews continued working throughout Monday night to continue with the significant clean up operation underway following flooding in Bantry, Bandon and at a number of additional locations.
The council’s emergency phone line received more than 39 calls on Monday night, largely in relation to reports of road flooding.
Road users are asked to be aware of spot flooding, debris and fallen trees on many roads.
Following recent weather events, trees have been weakened and remain susceptible to further damage.
Motorists are advised to drive with caution during heavy rain, not to drive through flood waters and be conscious of cyclists and pedestrians.