City Hall prioritise Paul Street but dozens of premises hit

City Hall prioritise Paul Street but dozens of premises hit

School principal, JIm Long, in the sports hall at the Douglas Community School which had its roof blown off during hurricane Ophelia. Picture: Dan Linehan

DOZENS of buildings in the city centre suffered some degree of structural damage during Storm Ophelia.

Hurricane-force winds on Monday afternoon left their mark on city centre homes and commercial buildings, with 'at least 30' affected, according to Ruth Buckley, the Acting Chief Executive of Cork City Council.

Ms Buckley said that much of the damage was minor, but warned that the figure could rise further over the coming days as building owners assess their properties.

Some 150 trees were also knocked down during the storm, with the Acting City Chief warning that it could be two days or more before normality is restored to some parts of the city.

The Paul St area remained the priority in terms of building damage, she said. Pedestrian access from Paul St to Rory Gallagher Plaza was blocked off in the wake of the storm.

"Many of the building owners have already sourced contractors to carry out the necessary works and we are working with others. We will get to all of them as soon as possible, though Paul St is a priority," she said.

There was also some damage to homes during the storm, which saw three people relocated from Spring Lane.

In all, the city's housing directorate received roughly 70 calls, eight of which were deemed 'urgent', though others were undergoing further assessment.

Cork City Council staff were being kept busy with the clean-up and recovery effort throughout the day yesterday, clearing trees from the city's main roadways and restoring normality for the people of the city centre.

300 staff, including a large number of contractors, were putting in the hours, though issues such as fallen power lines and potential issues with the gas network were slowing down progress.

Motorists and pedestrians have also been ignoring warnings about unsafe buildings and trees, according to Ms Buckley, driving and walking around barriers to look at the damage.

She warned people to take heed of the warnings as a matter of public safety.

Ms Buckley also said that despite the challenges, work is being completed as quickly as possible.

"There is no contingency fund, we never predicted this," she said.

"But, we're not going there yet - the priority is to make sure that we are being responsive as quickly as possible."

Meanwhile, a family in Douglas spoke of their lucky escape after the roo from the sports hall at Douglas Community School crashed into their back garden.

Ethel O’Donovan said her daughter Siobhán, aged 19, was just about to walk out the back door to the garden shed when the roofing slammed into their garden. “Siobhán was just inches away - God only knows what would have happened if the piece of roof had hit the back of the house,” she said.

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