Canon Paul Willoughby, the rector of Bantry, County Cork has said that the floods in the town are the worst he has seen in his 26 years in the parish. Canon Willoughby has been out and about in the local community offering his support,
The images of what seemed like a river flowing down New Street in Bantry have been seen thousands of times in the past 24 hours. A local businessman was working late in his office in Bantry town. He went home at 10pm and everything seemed normal. At midnight he received a phone call to come back into Bantry. The rain was very, very heavy and he eventually arrived at his office with water up to his thighs. Bantry is used to tidal flooding but this was something very different!
This is but one story of the early hours of Tuesday morning, August 25th, when flash flooding from Storm Francis left a trail of devastation in the town of Bantry. Torrential rainwater flowed down from the hills surrounding the town and gathered into a raging torrent as it flowed though houses and shops through the town. Business owners, family members, friends and others from the community worked through the night to try and stave off the flow even as flood water and sewage flowed into their shops and businesses. Bantry Fire Brigade were on hand with their equipment to help. On New Street the road burst open with the pressure of the water.
On Tuesday morning exhausted and frustrated proprietors gathered around to comfort each other as more piles of ruined stock from their shops piled up on the footpaths outside. Some had a lucky escape while other shops were devastated. It was a dreadful sight. In the midst of this a supermarket trolley made its way up the town pushed by Shane Spillane, owner of O’Connors Seafood Restaurant with his staff Amanda, George and Ann. They cooked up a wonderful meal of soup and curry for everyone. It was a wonderful act of goodness and kindness in the heart of all the sadness.
Canon Paul Willoughby, rector of Bantry, met some of the business owners on Tuesday morning. He said
I have been rector here for 26 years and this is the worst I have ever seen. This is a terrible day for Bantry. The business community are suffering very badly already as result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This flooding had been a very hard blow for all of them. One businessman said he felt like closing up his shop until Christmas. In Bantry are the shops and restaurants are small family-run businesses and rely on the local community to survive. they are wonderful supporters of our parish and community. They will pull through this with all our help and support.