The River Lee breaks its banks on Fr Mathew Quay during heavy flooding on Tuesday. Photos: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

‘That’s us gone for six weeks’

While a number of city businesses lost out on crucial trading time due to Tuesday’s floods, Cork City Council says more than enough warning was given.

The flooding came just two days before the entire country was moved to Level 5 lockdown restrictions at midnight last night (Wednesday).

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Yvonne Murphy of Jon Claire Ladies Fashion of Oliver Plunkett Street said that the store had taken eight inches of water and that she had not expected such severe flooding.

“We think it was about eight inches, right to the back (of the shop). A lot of our low-lying clothes did get hit. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. There was another big flood warning in the summer and that came to nothing,” said Ms Murphy.

Ms Murphy was working at the store in 2014 when the city was hit with devastating floods. She said that “once is too many” and that she would try to get one day’s trading in before the lockdown.

An employee of nearby Silverwood Jewellers said she didn’t know anything was wrong until she arrived to work on Tuesday morning.

“When I got in the whole place was flooded. It’s awful. Today was our last good day of trading. That’s us gone for six weeks. I rang the boss in Dublin this morning and she said ‘God, what else can happen?’”.

Ahmet Kizilay, owner of Ahmet’s Barber Shop on Marlboro Street, also said he had not received adequate warning, saying he had only seen the yellow rainfall warning issued by Met Éireann.

He said: “This morning I was drinking tea outside and I saw water coming from the South Mall. In two seconds’ time, I had to close the shop.”

However, City Council Communications Officer Claire O’Sullivan told the Cork Independent that the first alert went out at 4.45pm on Sunday, more than 24 hours before the flooding was predicted to begin.

“It was sent out as a text message service that residents and businesses can sign up to. It was also sent out as an email and a press release which was covered on all local radio and online,” said Ms O’Sullivan.

Ms O’Sullivan confirmed there was another comprehensive alert sent out at 2.30pm on Monday in which the council indicated that the flood risk had become “more significant”.

She said: “We started contacting media again at 6am on Tuesday morning, contacting all local radio stations, sending press releases and social media updates.

“After major city flooding in 2014, a text and email alert system was put in place by Cork City Council to ensure business owners had as much warning as possible in the event of possible flooding.”

In the wake of Tuesday’s flooding the Government pledged to make funding available to those affected by the floods.

The flooding also underlined the ongoing debate surrounding the planned flood defences for the city, with many believing that Tuesday’s flooding could have been avoided had the building of the defences gone uncontested.