While Fermoy remains on high alert this week, evidence, if any was needed, that the town really needs the flood protection works that are presently ongoing, could be found in the contrast between the north and south banks of the river on Monday night.
On the north side of the Blackwater the flood barriers which were installed as part of the works were erected and did their job in holding back the raging river which would previously have spilled over, flooding adjoining land and buildings.
On the south side where works are ongoing and expected to be completed in April, the river rose and flooded its environs from the Barnane Walk to Mill Road.
Cork County Council had sufficient advance warning of the event to be well prepared with large sandbags placed in the river and smaller ones distributed to business premises and retailers in the vicinity. In addition, those businesses which had flood barriers of their own put them in place in front of their doors. Management at the Grand Hotel however took the reluctant decision to close the popular premises for the evening as a precaution. Ashe Quay was closed to traffic.
It was planned to close the bridge to traffic mid afternoon on Monday, that was subsequently put back to 5pm. The situation was monitored closely and it was finally decided that the bridge wouldn’t have to be closed after all, though it was described by a council official as ‘a very close thing’.
The flood peaked at midnight and while the major flood event and threat has passed, some localised flooding problems are expected over the next five days due to further inclement weather forecast. Outer sections of the flood barriers across the bridge were removed to facilitate pedestrians and three lanes of traffic on Tuesday. The remaining barriers at four locations on the northside will stay in place for the foreseeable future while sandbags will remain in place on the southside.
Mill Road was still closed to through traffic on Tuesday due to flooding. Local councillor Noel McCarthy was full of praise for Cork County Council’s senior area engineer Brendan O’Gorman and his staff whom, he said, were out throughout the afternoon and evening on Monday, organising the flood defences and taking all possible precautions. They worked through until the flood threat receded after midnight. Cllr McCarthy also commended the area engineer for the way he kept concerned local business owners, councillors and others informed of the threat and the measures being taken.
“Monday was proof of just how badly needed the flood defence works are. Despite the inconvenience, noise and disruption, they will be worth it. The town is going to benefit,” Cllr McCarthy said, adding his hope that it would be the last time the town would suffer flooding.
On Tuesday afternoon flooding caused the closure of the Lismore to Cappoquin road from early afternoon. Met Eireann issued a Level Orange weather warning on Tuesday about further heavy rains for the area.