Derry and Bernie Finn walk through the flood waters in Ballinhassig last month. Photo: Ballinhassig Village Association

Ballinhassig crowdfunds for vital flood barrier

The community of Ballinhassig has come together to fundraise for a barrier to protect the homes of pensioners from future floods. It comes in response to prolonged delays in a relief scheme for the area.

Denis McCarthy, Chairman of the Ballinhassig Village Association, told The Cork Independent that there are eight houses situated on the eastern Carrigaline side of Ballinhassig village which are vulnerable to flooding.

These homes, which don’t have flood insurance and are in close proximity to the Owenabue River that flows behind them, have been flooded numerous times since 2009, most recently during Storm Babet in October.

“From Ballinhassig village all the way back to Crossbarry, when there’s heavy rain, the fields flood. All that water has to pass behind those eight houses,” he explained.

Six of the eight homes are occupied by pensioners who live with the uncertainty of not knowing when their homes will face the next bout of flooding. “One of the houses had only put a kitchen in two and a half months ago and they ended up with two feet of water inside the house,” he said.

“The residents of the eight houses all still have their furniture up on pallets. It’s 6 weeks from Christmas and they are walking around on concrete floors because they are afraid to put their furniture back down,” he added.

Denis explained that following a flood incident in 2009, Cork County Council initiated an investigation, leading to the allocation of €1.4 million by the OPW for the Ballinhassig Flood Relief Scheme.

Despite regular communication between the residents and both the OPW and the council regarding the progress of the project, a recent meeting after Storm Babet revealed that the barrier might not be in place until 2025-2026, with no specified start date. The project had initially gone out to tender, but an issue led to the council rejecting it, prompting the process to be restarted.

Denis explained that the community decided to take matters into their own hands to help the affected residents. “We wanted to do something to prevent the river from flooding the houses, which is just a temporary measure until the barrier goes in,” he said.

A GoFundMe page was set up last week in the hopes of raising enough money to put flood defence in place and Denis said that he has been ‘flabbergasted’ by the generous donations already received.

“The page is only up and running a week, and we already have €9,900. We also have the the bones of €2,000 in cash donations,” he said.

While they haven’t been able to calculate the total cost of the project, Denis estimated that it will be in the region of €15,000, with any surplus going towards the Ballinhassig Parish Emergency Fund. He says that they hope to start work on the barrier as soon as possible.

“When get close to our target money, we can start as we know we won’t have to stop. We are conscious that we are paying contractors to do it and we don’t want anyone to be out of pocket, but the sooner we can start it, the better for everyone,” he said.

Denis expressed his gratitude to the community and commended the people of Ballinhassig for coming to the aid of residents in homes affected by flooding.

“When there’s pensioners involved I think it hits a chord with everybody. In times of need, there isn’t a parish in Ireland like Ballinhassig, time after time they have come up trumps,” he said.

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