The Cork Water Crisis

As a resident of the city, I'm not unsympathetic to the unusual circumstances which have produced the worst ever flooding to the city or even the shutoff of the water services for up to a horrifying 9 days.

What I am very angry about is the misinformation and inadequacy of services supplied to people by the emergency services. For those of you who might not know, there was and is no emergency out of hours water services hotline in the city. This exists in the north county and south county areas, but not in the city. A call to the FIRE BRIGADE was required in the city area, presumably so the council workers can go home at 5pm and sleep soundly in their beds. (Similar anomalies occur for example with clamping - you can be clamped at any time up until 3.30pm on a Saturday, but the phoneline to get declamped shuts down, so you can't be declamped, unlike in Dublin where there is a 24 by 7 service and 1 hour maxmimum wait time to get unclamped again).

For example certain local councillors (well intentioned no doubt) have been telling people that if they had not already lost their water service, they were unlikely to. However, the Sydney Park area only got cut off on Saturday afternoon (mysteriously within half an hour of a notification that the Lower Blackpool and city island areas were "reconnected" - or was the remaining services in the northside cut off to divert to these areas instead?) Montenotte and other areas in the north eastern side of the city were similarly cut off over Saturday and Sunday. This morning pockets of the north side not already affected lost their services. Yet the council insists that people who are already unimpacted will continue to remain so. This most definitely is not the case.

A secondary issue was the non provision of water tankers or hydrants to the city region, in particularly the relatively impoverished north city area fanning out from MacCurtain St. It took THREE WHOLE DAYS between the first loss of service to this area and the provision of emergency water - some people lost water here on Friday but emergency water only started on Monday morning - the typical "screw you" hurricane Katrina mentality that exists towards this very run down area of potluck Slumlords and heavily overcrowded HMOs. As of the weekend, anybody needing water was facing a 30 minute walk (and more) to one of the areas.

Lastly, the issue of the non provision of containers for water. Every DIY store in the city sold out of containers over the weekend, and no effort was made to source suitable containers, so I saw people bringing domestic bins to the tankers in the absence of nothing being made available. Apparently every camping shop in the city sold out quickly.

Quite frankly since I didn't see the army anywhere I cannot comment on whether their services were good or not - I just didn't see them in the emergency tankers I visited. The guys working were doing ok but in all honesty the response has been shocking. People have pretty much been left to their own devices and anybody without a car is frankly, quite royally fucked. Another key problem is that there is a tacit assumption that people will just rely on friends and family. Fine, unless you are one of many families who all live on the northside and so are all in the same position. Or you're a migrant whose friends are similarly effected. Even in my own case, most people I know are in the same position themselves. The few who are not are already overwhelmed with their own families - what must it be like to be a migrant who doesn't know many people? No wonder UCC just sent their 800 newly homeless students home. They knew that they couldn't assume that resources would be available to such a huge number overnight with so many others affected.

In all honesty, I think there needs to be some kind of reliable, honest, apolitical and accurate information source - giving people the information they need and confirmations of areas that are at risk of losing water. That would be appreciated.


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