FUNDING will be made available to address the devastation in West Cork as a result of recent floods, according to the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works with responsibility for Flood Relief.
Minister Patrick O’Donovan visited West Cork today to meet with those affected by the recent floods, and with Council officials in order to discuss plans for these areas.
Areas of west Cork, particularly Rosscarbery, Dunmanway and Rathbarry, were devastated by heavy rain in recent days, with homes and businesses left flooded and roads severely damaged.
A nationwide weather advisory has since been put in place, with further rainfall warnings likely and possible wind warnings. The weather advisory, which came into effect from midday on Monday, will remain in place until Saturday at 6pm.
“It is only when you see the damage first hand that you can fully appreciate the devastation the recent severe weather has brought to communities in Connonagh, Dunmanway and Rosscarbery,” Minister O’Donovan said in Dunmanway.
“I have met with officials in Cork County Council, my own OPW Officials and the many residents and business owners who have been dealing with this terrible situation for the last week.
“The extent of the damage to the road network and infrastructure needs to be carefully examined by the relevant professionals and I would like to assure the communities affected that funding will be made available to deal with the aftermath of this destruction.”
The Minister also encouraged Cork County Council to avail of the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme, which aims to provide funding to local authorities for small, localised schemes in areas impacted by river and coastal flooding.
“I will also report back to my Ministerial colleagues in Government on the overall picture here in Cork and every effort will be made by those other Departments to step in and provide the necessary financial resources to the Council,” he added.
“I would like to reassure the communities affected that this will be done and it will be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said it has been ‘extremely challenging’ for the communities that have been impacted by the recent flooding in the region.
“Following this exceptionally high localised rainfall over a short number of days, Cork County Council crews have worked relentlessly to assist and protect local residents and business, while carrying out emergency repair works for the safety of all road users,” he said.“We are now assessing the significant impact of these flood events, to allow us to chart a clear and accurate plan for remediation.”
“Cork County Council appreciates the support given by both the OPW and TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) to assist us in repairing the damage and in taking actions to alleviate the possibility of future flood events in the area.”
Neil Grant, general manager of Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, said the Wild Atlantic Way route in West Cork should be among the best roads in the world. He added that road closures due to rain is impacting and will continue to impact business in the area.
“There is a serious worry about tourism,” he said this week. “If we’re serious about the Wild Atlantic Way and about west Cork being a destination that people can drive around to see these beauty spots and experience all it has to offer, we have got to have a road system that can handle it better.”
With the national advisory in place warning of more rain, local TD Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said the people of west Cork are nervous about the next few days and what the weather has in store.
“People are understandably very, very nervous,” he said. “The council are doing their level best to get out there and clear gullies and divert streams where they might be a threat but obviously they won’t be able to get to every issue.
“This isn’t going to be solved overnight and there are big issues in terms of culverts, pipes and drains that really need to be addressed.”
Mr O’Sullivan said he has spoken at length with Taoiseach Micheál Martin about the impact of the damaging floods.
“The Taoiseach and I spoke and I made him fully aware of the damage and devastation for home owners and to businesses,” he said. “I want to commend emergency services and Cork County Council staff who have been excellent in their response.
“The flooding has been extremely tough for businesses and families already under immense pressure because of the pandemic.”
Mr O’Donovan said that Cork County Council needs more staff dedicated to cleaning pipes and gullies to avoid such flooding. “While obviously this is an extreme weather event, I also think there is also not enough outdoor staff available at Cork County Council cleaning gullies and pipes.
“It’s all contributed to this disaster,” he added.