A Galway supermarket owner has said his business has been "absolutely destroyed" after Storm Debi caused seawater to burst into his store, causing severe damage.
Galway has emerged as one of the worst-affected counties following Storm Debi with Clarinbridge in the south hit particularly badly.
A number of other premises, including a pharmacy, hairdresser, coffee shop and garden centre are closed as owners asses the damage and attempting to clear out seawater.
Ronan Hennigan, owner of a Londis supermarket in the village, said one of his employees became trapped in the store due to water filling up the shop early this morning.
He said he received a phone call from his deli manager at 4.35am when he first heard of water getting into the shop through the front door.
We need your consent to load this comcast-player contentWe use comcast-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage PreferencesWhen Mr Hennigan arrived at the store, the water had risen to the height of the front door, with his employee stuck inside with the water waist high.
Speaking on RTÉ's News At One he said: "We rang the emergency services, they sent out a fire brigade, an ambulance and eventually the tide subsided about half an hour later and they were able to get in, get him out and take him to hospital and get him checked out. Fortunately, he’s fine, he’s okay.
"He was trapped in the shop. He spoke to me at 4.35am and by 4.45am the water had risen ten, 12 feet.
"It was seawater, so it was a storm surge. At that stage the wind was hurricane level, it was that bad."
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Mr Hennigan described the damage caused to the supermarket as "unthinkable" and said his business had been "absolutely destroyed".
He said: "We’ve no insurance now. We need the Government’s help on this because otherwise my 20 staff will be out of a job and we won’t be able to open again.
"I would estimate the cost of the damage, I couldn’t put a figure on it but minimum half a million, €700,000, that’s how bad, it’s devastation.
"It just cleaned everything out, it moved coolers around the shop, contaminated all the food so that all has to be dumped. It’s horrendous, horrendous.
"It’s an absolute nightmare, a nightmare, the worst way you could have woken up."
Mr Hennigan said his business was also hit by flooding in 2018 and despite this, no flood defence system had been put in place.
He added: "There’s six other businesses in the complex so I’m not the only one affected by this.
"They’re devastated, the people are devastated, there’s no flood defence so this could happen again in two weeks’ time if we get another bad storm, you can’t say that it won’t until something is done about it."
Government support scheme extended
A Government scheme to support people living in homes affected by severe weather has been extended to Co Galway.
Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton has told RTÉ News the Government will support businesses and homeowners who experienced flooding in the Galway area as a result of Storm Debi.
Speaking in Clarinbridge, she said Minister Heather Humphreys will open the humanitarian fund for homeowners who do not have flood insurance, and Minister Simon Coveney will respond quickly in relation to providing supports to businesses to get them back open again as quickly as possible.
She said its clear the storm has had a huge impact in this area and work will commence immediately by the local authority to carry out assessments of damage.
"It's like a different world. I spoke to all the business owners; they are absolutely ruined"
Warning supports will not go far enough
A local councillor in Clarinbridge has said businesses in the village have been "absolutely ruined" after Storm Debi and warned the current Government support will not go far enough to help repairs.
Fianna Fáil councillor Martina Kinane told RTÉ's News at One that she does not believe the funding will be enough to help destroyed businesses.
"The only positive thing I can say is that there is no loss of life. What I’ve seen is just unimaginable, I cannot express the shock and devastation of the local businesses and premises," she said.
"It’s like a different world. I spoke to all the business owners; they are absolutely ruined."
She added: "I'm really concerned for the viability of our beautiful village, for our community, for the business community. We need the Government to step in.
Cllr Kinane said she was not sure if any flood defence system could have stopped what she described as a "mini tornado".
She added: "It was Midleton a couple of weeks ago, it was Clarinbridge this week, where will it be next week? We have to get a handle on what we have to do."
Meanwhile at Renville Quay, home of the Galway Bay Sailing club, a number of craft were lifted off the shore as storm surges swept in.
Those boats are now washed up on the other side of the bay.
A pierside cafe was also inundated.