City loses more than 500 trees in storm Ophelia

City loses more than 500 trees in storm Ophelia
Aftermath of ex-Hurricane Ophelia. Fallen trees on Centre Park Road Pic: Larry Cummins

MORE than 500 trees were knocked down in Cork after ex-hurricane Ophelia hit the city last week.

Cork City Council had initially estimated that just 150 trees fell, with officials conceding that the number is likely to continue to rise in the coming days as new sites are identified.

It is estimated that hundreds more were damaged by hurricane-force winds last week, with elected members of Cork City Council calling on the local authority to tap into national government or EU funding to begin replacing the trees lost as part of the storm.

The figure was revealed as part of a post-storm debrief at City Hall this week.

It prompted some concern among members of the city council, who pointed out that there are dozens of cracked, damaged and broken trees still standing throughout the city and suburbs.

These could potentially pose risks to motorists and walkers in city and suburban areas, according to the council.

A fallen tree blocks the road on the northern end of Centre Park Road. Pic: Larry Cummins
A fallen tree blocks the road on the northern end of Centre Park Road. Pic: Larry Cummins

Former Lord Mayor, Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer called for a 'conversation about trees and the public realm', urging the local authority to engage in education and support with the public.

His party colleague, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, said that there are dozens of trees throughout the city and county that pose major issues throughout the year.

"There were trees blowing around like rag dolls during the wind last week," he said.

"A huge amount of trees in this city are grossly overgrown and out of control. Tree management is a critical thing - there are always people in here calling for work to be done."

Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said that the council's estimate of 500 trees damaged was likely to tell just half the story, noting the presence of many more trees with broken limbs that could pose future risks.

Fianna Fáil's Tim Brosnan added, "We are lucky that the response was calm and cool here. If people were out and about - like we saw elsewhere - there would surely have been deaths from these trees."

Councillors called for the local authority to seek national or European funding to replace the trees as soon as possible, too.

During the meeting, deputy chief executive Ruth Buckley also confirmed that almost 40 public buildings sustained some degree of structural damage.

In addition, roads and footpaths suffered damage, which debris, including leaves and roof slates, posed a major issue for city council staff, clogging drains and gullies and posing a public safety risk.

Ms Buckley discussed the local authority's response to last weeks storm, paying tribute to the committed and hard-working staff who worked to ensure that the impact was minimised.

Elected members were also quick to shower staff with praise, claiming that the reaction could be used as a template by other local authorities in the future.

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