Galway businessman Michael White has told of how, when he opened the doors of his premises on Monday morning, “two and a half feet of water ran under my feet.”
Storm Debi caused chaos in the county early on Monday, particularly in Oranmore, where boats were washed off their moorings and shops flooded by seawater.
Mr White told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland that a lot of damage was done to his shop in Oranmore, but that no one was killed or injured which was a miracle.
While his premises had been flooded a few years ago, it was “nothing at all” like the extent of the flooding from Storm Debi. One other shop “just up the road” had also been flooded in Oranmore, but nearby Clarenbridge had been “hit very, very badly.”
Mr White said the first he had heard about the red warning for Storm Debi was at 8pm on Sunday, but it was for East Galway and Roscommon, which was 30 to 40 miles away, so he had not been expecting damage. He said he was unaware how much would be covered by his existing insurance.
“The most important thing was the cleanup. The first thing I have to say about yesterday was the support from the people in Oranmore was unbelievable. I mean, it was unbelievable the amount of people that were in the shop yesterday helping to clean up. There were 20, 30 people in the shop at any one time. I’m forever grateful. It was fantastic support from the whole village yesterday.
The mayor of Galway City, Cllr Eddie Hoare, told RTÉ that the city had been badly hit by the storm because of the combination of high winds and high tide.
“A number of businesses have been impacted in Galway City, a number of homeowners, too. Unfortunately, the area in which the flooding occurred is a regular area that is flooded. Most, if not all of the owners and businesses wouldn’t have insured, which is devastating for them.
“And what’s even more devastating is the fear in those homeowners and businesses that this could happen again. And that’s the big concern here again. Obviously, some are coming to terms with the damage yesterday.”
Cllr Hoare said that a lot of stock had been damaged, which was a big concern for the businesses involved.
Following flooding in 2018, he said temporary measures had been installed in some parts of Galway by the council, and these had acted as a mitigation. However, there were concerns that further measures had not been introduced because of planning issues.
The funding was in place and he wanted to assure businesses and homeowners that more temporary and permanent measures would be put in place as it was likely that flooding was going to be a regular occurence.