Clean-up under way after Irish towns and villages swamped by Storm Babet floods

The army and civil defence units supported evacuation measures in Midleton, Co Cork, where more than 100 properties were flooded during Storm Babet (Damien Rytel/PA)
The army and civil defence units supported evacuation measures in Midleton, Co Cork, where more than 100 properties were flooded during Storm Babet (Damien Rytel/PA)

A major clean-up operation is under way after flooding swamped several towns and villages in Ireland during Storm Babet.

Counties Cork and Waterford on the southern coast of the island were worst hit, with some areas still under water on Thursday morning.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces were deployed as part of the response to the floods.

The army and civil defence units supported evacuation measures in the town of Midleton in Co Cork, where more than 100 properties were flooded.

A number of businesses, including a prominent supermarket, were damaged by the rapidly rising water levels.

While the floods have since receded, almost 500 electricity customers in Midleton remained without power on Thursday morning, with network engineers from ESB working to restore supply.

Autumn weather October 18th 2023
Flooding in Midleton, Co Cork (Damien Rytel/PA)

Cork County Council said more than a month’s worth of rain fell in the space of 24 hours, leading to unprecedented flooding, saturated land and high river levels across the county.

The council has established a centre at Midleton Fire Station to co-ordinate the response and a rest facility was provided in Midleton Community Centre for those who had been evacuated.

Ireland deputy premier Micheal Martin and fellow Cabinet minister Simon Coveney, both from Co Cork, said the Government will provide support through its Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

Mr Coveney said the flooding has “caused carnage” across the county, while Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said his “heart goes out to all the residents and businesses” affected by Storm Babet.

Independent councillor for East Cork Liam Quaide said the scenes of flooding in Mill Street and Main Street in Midleton were “apocalyptic”.

He told the PA news agency he and other family members got stranded for several hours with many other local residents on the outskirts of town as both roads home were off limits.

“We tried a couple of perilous detours and had to turn back,” he said.

“The scenes of devastation in Midleton (are) an ominous sign of what is ahead of us as a nation if we don’t double down on climate mitigation and adaptation.

“I’d like to commend the heroic work of Cork County Council staff, the fire service and Civil Defence Forces who worked around the clock evacuating and providing assistance to many people in distress.”

Local resident Liam MacCarthaigh said he had been temporarily “stranded” during the after-school run in the town due to the floods.

Flooding was also reported in Whitegate, Rathcormac, Glandore, Ringaskiddy, Carrigaline, Raffeen, Halfway and Casteltownbere in Co Cork.

In Waterford, there were reports of flooding in Dungarvan, Tallow and Clashmore.

Five counties on the south and south-east coasts of Ireland – Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow – were subject to orange rain warnings on Wednesday.

An additional yellow rain warning has been announced for Co Kerry, lasting 24 hours from 6pm on Thursday.

Some of the flooding episodes began on Tuesday.

Euan Whelton, from the village of Glandore in Co Cork, said he had not seen flooding “this bad” for 10 years.

The 21-year-old agriculture worker said the Skibbereen Fire Brigade pumped water from the area for “five or six hours” on Tuesday but said it remained underwater on Wednesday.

He said the harbour village was “closed down” in 2013 due to heavy flooding and told PA: “I would say in 10 years it hasn’t been this bad.”

He added: “There were a few houses down there that were flooded – there was probably a foot or two of water inside the houses.

“There was a riverbank burst and it flooded the houses down there. There was a high tide as well so it was hard to get the water out.

“The fire brigade was there for probably five or six hours pumping it out but it’s still all underwater at the moment (Wednesday afternoon).”

Autumn weather October 18th 2023
The flooding in Midleton developed rapidly (@realLiamMac/PA)

Mr Whelton added that, in one of his cousin’s houses, the water was “coming in the back door and going straight out the front door”.

Co Cork Mayor Frank O’Flynn said a month’s worth of rain had fallen in 24 hours.

“This is on top of already saturated lands and high river levels,” he said.

“It is evidence, if any were needed, of our changing climate and the issues that it presents.

“I am especially conscious of the advanced preparations that were undertaken by Cork County Council in mitigating the effects of this event and how, despite every effort, homes, businesses and road users have been impacted.

“Areas where flood defence schemes have been completed fared far better than others in the face of this deluge.”

He said the issues facing authorities dealing with the flooding are “unprecedented”.

Northern Ireland avoided the worst of the weather on Wednesday.

A Met Office yellow rain warning covering Northern Ireland from Wednesday afternoon is due to lift at 10am on Thursday.