Cork has been damaged by significant flooding on Tuesday, just one day before Ireland”s shops close under new COVID-19 restrictions.
Many streets in the centre of the Irish city were submerged under around a metre of water after high tides and heavy winds caused swelling on the River Lee.
While flood warnings had been issued in advance, the speed at which the floodwaters rose appears to have taken many people by surprise.
Dozens of parked cars had also been damaged in low-lying areas and authorities say the overall cost of the flooding could run into millions of euros.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney tweeted that the images of Cork’s flooded streets were “gutting”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin says the Government will ensure that support is provided to businesses affected by the flooding.
“This latest flood event is deeply distressing for business owners in the city,” said Micheál Martin following a cabinet meeting and encouraged local businesses to apply for funding.
“This is a critical time for traders, and they are now facing into another clean-up operation following this morning’s flooding.”
“All the necessary supports will be made available to those affected … without delay.”
On Wednesday, Ireland’s government is putting the country at its highest level of coronavirus restrictions for six weeks in a bid to combat a rise in infections.
No social or family gatherings will be allowed in homes or private properties under the new rules, but schools will remain open.
Only essential stores can remain open, while restaurants and bars can provide only takeaway meals.
Businesses had hoped to welcome customers for a final day on Tuesday in Cork, but the morning floods will likely have disrupted trade.
The Minister for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, also visited the city on Tuesday to offer support to traders and property owners in the areas affected.
The Director of Services at Cork City Council, David Joyce, said some business owners had heeded council warnings about flooding and had sandbagged their doors to stop water from entering their properties.
Officials say the flooding is further evidence of the need to progress talks on flood defence works in the city to prevent future occurrences.
Cork City Council Flood Assessment Team say that they do not expect further flooding in the immediate future.
But Met Éireann has issued yellow weather warnings for the entire country and warned that up to 50mm of rain may fall.
UK authorities are also warning that Northern Ireland could face flooding and travel disruption.