MORE than a week after the worst floods in living memory, businesses on the northside of Limerick are still counting the cost.
A group of businesses which trade in Thomondgate were hit particularly badly by the floods, and this has led to a growing chorus of calls for flood defences to be installed.
JJ Bowles’ Pub, Jack Monday’s Cafe, Tim Mulcahy’s Garage, Treaty Batteries, and Slater’s Crash Repairs all suffered disruption to trade following the floods.
There are virtually no flood defences between Thomond Bridge and Brown’s Quay, leaving the businesses very vulnerable.
Northside councillor Tom Shortt - whose home nearby was also damaged - is to arrange a meeting for the traders with City Council so the authority can address their concerns.
“They want City Hall to appreciate how exposed they are, and want remedial action. If something could be done along there, it would secure the future of those businesses. At the end of the day, we are looking at rate payers and employers here,” Cllr Shortt said.
JJ Bowles’ Pub was forced to close on Saturday last after the entire premises was flooded.
A staff member - who asked not to be identified - told the Limerick Leader that smoke damage was caused after the rising tide hit off the storage heater and set it alight.
“We see water coming into the beer garden and going back out, and this is not a problem. But when it comes into the pub itself, it is terrible. It would be the worst damage we would have seen,” he said.
A lot of this damage was not visible, so it was hard to demonstrate the problems to a council official who visited the pub on Friday morning.
“Thankfully the floors are okay. Some of the paint has ripped off. There is damage to a lot of the wallpaper and the plasterboards, and there is a lot of smoke damage,” he added, “We just need to get rid of the smell now though!”
Further down Thomondgate, Tim Mulcahy - who has traded over 40 years - arrived back on Monday to find his garage underwater.
Computers have been written off, and his telephone lines were out of use.
“To give you an idea of the power of the water, the dustbins were full and parked up near the gate. But they were washed away. The whole yard was under water,” he said, “I have insurance, but I am not even going to bother claiming, as I might not get it the next time.”
Jim Ryan has rented space from Tim for 20 years to run his battery manufacture business Treaty Batteries.
He compared the scene on the Monday morning after the weekend before as akin to a “shipwreck”.
“Drums were floating around the place when we arrived. We are just making the best at the moment,” he said, pointing to his office furniture, which has been written off.
In anticipation of more heavy flooding over the weekend just past, James Slater, Slater Crash Repairs, has moved many cars out of the garage to prevent them suffering damage.
Many of the business owners have pointed to the presence of a set of steps down to the River Shannon at the top of Brown’s Quay.
Tim - who employs four people - said: “We hope we don’t ever get a repeat of this. But if something was done with the steps, I think it would make a difference. They are not even used any more: a gate could be put in.”
He also called for better drainage systems to allow the water to drain quickly.
Cllr Shortt said flood defences now have to be developed here at the same time as the other improvements are being made to the banks of the Shannon.