New Ross emergency services immediately sprang into action when the flooding occurred

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NEW ROSS Gardaí and Wexford County Council issued urgent warnings to motorists from 4.30pm on Monday following flooding in New Ross, following an abnormal downpour of rain in the town.

By 4:30 p.m., visibility had dropped to 50 meters in New Ross, with motorists being advised by the gardaí to be extra careful on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge.

An estimated 40mm of rain fell in a single hour, ten times the amount classified as “heavy rain”.

With thunder and lightning all afternoon, the sky opened up shortly before 3:30 p.m., with large hailstones falling around 5:00 p.m. Parts of the city were severely flooded, just as drivers were returning from work.

One woman, Nikola Evora Zonenberga, said she feared for her two teenage children and herself after her car broke down in New Ross and no one came to help her.

“We are in shock but we cannot forget the kindness of a name called Joe, who came to help, despite his age. He was in a blue car and we want to thank him from the bottom of our hearts.

Other cars were seen floating in parking lots or abandoned on the side of the road.

Gardaí set up checkpoints outside the city to ensure people did not take to the road.

Shortly before 6pm, Wexford County Council issued a severe flood warning.

Drivers reported horrific scenes, saying they couldn’t believe they had crossed the waters.

“A car was apparently stuck in a hole in the platform and there were cars that appeared to be floating in a parking lot,” said a driver.

Sections of road on Mary Street and Jones’s Hill were damaged, spectacularly in the case of the latter, where a four-foot deep crack opened up in the surface.

A flood defense wall was completed for the city in 2017, accompanied by promises that the quay and the city would no longer be flooded except for one flood every 200 years, but Monday’s flood was due to the severity of the downpour and not at flooding of the River Barrow.

As business closed, several shopkeepers in New Ross were sweeping rain from their shops, including in North Quay, with most streets flooded, with some working until midnight clearing debris and dirt.

‘It was so bad there was a river flowing at the Brandon House hotel and flooding near the Apex,’ a driver said.

Drivers were able to cross the O’Hanrahan Bridge, with diversions in place to Charles Street.

Emergency services were on duty Monday night to help those caught in the flooding, while council workers provided businesses with sandbags in expectation of further heavy rain.

Much of the town was left filthy with streets littered with bark from High Hill Gardens, while many businesses saw shops, inventory, furniture and ceilings damaged.

Wexford County Council road services manager Eamonn Hore said the town was basking in hot weather until around 2pm when the weather started to change.

“We think 40 liters of water fall in every square meter of the city. It was like pouring buckets of water over a city. The river was lower than the water level at the quay.

He said the drains around New Ross were regularly cleaned, adding that if two-metre drains – like those used in Paris – were in New Ross there would be no room for other services.

“No place is designed for this volume of water in such a short time.”

He said council workers were cleaning the streets until midnight. “A lot of water didn’t even come from the roads.

“On South Street a lot of things were coming from the back of the premises and the front door.

“No private local could do anything to deal with this water level.”

Describing the hailstones as an amazing phenomenon, he said they washed into the sewers and coalesced.

“It was scary for a while. In Ballinaboola it was sunny and then it all went dark. It was scary stuff!

Sandbags were provided to businesses after the council received a Met Office forecast of normal levels of rainfall for Monday evening.

He said the Tholsel building also caused a leak, adding that he had never witnessed a weather event like this.

Five roads were damaged in the city by the force of the water. “It came from the manhole where the pipes couldn’t take it and it burst. They are all passable, but require a lot of work.

He said the quay was cleared by a combination of firefighters pumping out water and gullies being cleared, while mechanical sweepers cleared the streets.

Mr Hore said the council would learn from the event, adding that financial assistance, similar to that provided to homeowners after the Christmas floods, will be provided.

For the moment skips will be made available to people, accompanied by the help of the Civil Protection.

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