Businesses and households across the country have been left to count the cost of ex-Hurricane Ophelia, which made landfall in Ireland on Monday week and is estimated to have caused around €1 billion in damage nationally.
Among the businesses worst affected have been plant nurseries, including Fána Nurseries in Ballyhooly which has seen approximately one quarter of its tree stock damaged.
Fána Nurseries is managed by Joe Ahern, who has been left with a massive clean-up bill and an uncertainty over the future of his business after Ophelia caused damage to between 7,500 and 10,000 of his 40,000-strong tree nursery.
Joe estimates that the cost of the clean-up and materials will extend to at least €50,000, while he could yet not put an estimate on losses from the damage caused to trees.
While Joe, who opened the nursery in 2002, said he has experienced damaging weather over the years, Monday’s storm was the worst he had seen.
“It was a different type of wind; I’d never seen anything like it. It was swirling around; the worst hit trees were the six, seven, eight year olds. There’s one section of trees, about 2,000 trees, and there’s only around 10% still standing.
“There are about 7,500 to 10,000 gone in total. I don’t know how much I can salvage out of that. I might be able to salvage a high percentage or a low percentage, I don’t know at this stage. It’s something that could break us because we’re just starting into a new season; we were ready to go.”
Fána Nurseries is an award winning business that has been accredited with the highest Quality Award from The Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme.
Joe said one of the biggest headaches he faces is the uncertainty of his stock, explaining that a number of the damaged trees would have been looked at for sale. They’ve seen them, they’ve liked them, it more than likely would have turned into a sale. Now are they there to sell? I don’t know.”
He added: “Emotionally it’s been very draining; I’m absolutely drained from it. I knew there was going to be damage but not this level of damage, I though it was going to be a regular storm, that kind of damage we’d get through it, but not this kind of damage.”
The clean up at Fána Nurseries is likely to take up to four or five weeks, with four to five workers required.