Midleton Men’s Shed make flood prevention Dam Easy

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Midleton Men’s Shed make flood prevention Dam Easy

Midleton Men’s Shed is unique in all of Ireland. Of the 410 Men’s Sheds currently in operation, it has one significant claim to fame: it is, in fact, shed-less.

But that’s not deterring its keen members who meet up twice a week to chat, have a cup of coffee, play cards, get gardening or do some DIYing, writes Becky Grice. Based at Midleton’s Edmund Rice Centre, the lack of an actual, physical shed doesn’t seem to be a problem – they’re quite enjoying their uniqueness.

Besides, there’s bigger problems to be tackled, such as Midleton’s ongoing battle to (literally) stem the tide when it comes to flooding issues.

Bill O’Leary, Secretary of Midleton Men’s Shed, tells the Midleton & District News, ‘The Midleton Men’s Shed started its current incarnation about a year ago, with new members and a new ethos. It’s all about supporting our members and giving something back to the community.’

And that’s just what they’re doing.

Through a stroke of luck, members of Midleton Men’s Shed happened to be watching ‘The Late, Late Show’ when a company called Dam Easy Flood Barriers demonstrated some of their products. These simple, but incredibly effective barriers, have a patented pneumatic pump action seal and can be installed by anyone with no fixings whatsoever.

When Midleton Men’s Shed members saw this product, they knew that it could make a difference in Midleton and set about contacting Paddy McGlade, one of the company’s directors.

And that’s why, last Thursday, the Midleton & District News found themselves surrounded by members of Midleton Men’s Shed elected representatives, Thomas Street residents and interested passers-by as Paddy – in blistering sunshine – demonstrated just how easy the Dam Easy Flood Barrier is to install.

Now, we have to admit that, when it comes to DIY, we’re more DI-don’t but the Dam Easy system is just that.

The floor barrier is approximately 750mm high and weighs 19.7kg. It’s bright blue and yellow and, if we’re being honest, looks like something Bob The Builder would bring out the back of his van. But it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s what it does that counts: simply put, it stops flood water seeping into your house, causing untold damage.

The gate, once en situ can, by some basic lever pushing and pulling, expand to fit any household door frame. If the doorframe is too wide, two or three Dam Easy flood barriers can be installed next to each other (with some light DIY connecting work). Once fitted – here comes the science bit – rubber (or something similar) tubes at the bottom and each side of the barrier are pumped up to create a watertight seal against the doorframe. They can withstand significant water pressure and, once the flooding abates, can simply be ‘let down’ and stored inside the house.

‘We’re hoping it will really make a difference to homes that are affected by flooding in Midleton,’ Bill adds. ‘Thomas Street was particularly damaged several years ago and we’re delighted to be able to present Timothy Whyte with his own Dam Easy floodgate today.’

Timothy is one of several residents on Thomas Street who has applied for Midleton Men’s Shed ‘s help with flood prevention. His sister, Rosary Devlin, tells the Midleton & District News, ‘Water was coming up from the river and then the drains outside the house began to overflow too. This will make an absolutely huge difference the next time that Thomas Street floods.’

You’ll note Rosary says ‘when the town floods’ not ‘if.’

Pat Buckley TD was in agreement, noting, ‘This product is Irish-made and solves a significant problem that affects thousands of people across East Cork and further afield. I will be speaking to County Hall about looking at using Dam Easy flood barriers. For commercial properties, who pay rates, there should be some way of working with Dam Easy to provide them with these flood barriers, while homes susceptible to flooding should be awarded grants to help them avail of this system.’

He added, ‘I had a man call me the other day from Forrest Hill to say that his house was considered to be a flood risk. For those who know where Forrest Hill is, if that floods, then the whole town is submerged! Insurance companies are taking advantage of people in their most vulnerable times and this is a solution to a problem that exists and will continue to exist.’

Cllr. Noel Collins, Chairman of the East Cork Municipal Authority was in agreement, telling the Midleton & District News, ‘Hopefully, these Dam Easy flood barriers will keep the flood waters at bay while we await the Flood Defences Scheme for Midleton. To help progress the developments of Midleton Men’s Shed and this great scheme, I would advise members to call local TDs and MEPs to discuss and obtain government funding, which is available for community and rural affairs.’

At present, Midleton Men’s Shed has raised funding, through charitable organisations in Cork, to purchase 20 Dam Easy flood barriers.

‘We already have some Dam Easy flood barriers in place,’ Bill O’Leary states, ‘but there are additional floor barriers available for worthy recipients. Some homes only need one barrier at their front door, while others need two – one for the front and one for the back. There is no charge for the Dam Easy flood barriers when obtained through Midleton Men’s Shed but there are qualifying criteria to be met. Those interested in obtaining further information are asked to contact Midleton Men’s Shed via the Edmund Rice Centre in Midleton.’

For those who are ineligible to obtain a Dam Easy flood barrier through the Midleton Men’s Shed they can be purchased from Dam Easy directly, by calling 041 6874570 or by visit www.dameasyfloodbarriers.com

Back on Thomas Street, Don Woods, a member of Midleton Men’s Shed tells us, ‘I love being a part of the Men’s Shed – even without the actual shed! It’s great to be able to talk to people with similar interests and to help the community which we, ourselves, are a part of.’

Other members of the Midleton Men’s Shed include Niall Coffey (Chairperson), Donal Dennehy (Treasurer), Paudie Garvey, Tony McGrath, Pierce Smyth and Liam Coughlan.

They meet twice weekly at the Edmund Rice Centre in Midleton from 11.30am to 1.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays and new members are always welcome.

‘We want to liaise with the Gardaí, represented today by Sergeant-in-Charge of Midleton Garda Station, Damian McNamara, to facilitate this scheme. There are pensioners and people with limited ability who just can’t put out sandbags which, as we all know, aren’t infallible, so these Dam Easy flood barriers are a great other option.’

Paddy McGlade, Director of Dam Easy Flood Barriers is now finished with his demonstration and is quite happy to chat with the Midleton & District News. First off, we compliment him on the wonderful company name! ‘We wanted it to express exactly what they do,’ he smiles. ‘The product became available in September 2017 and it’s already proving popular worldwide, with a huge uptake in the USA. According to DEFRA in the UK – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – you are more likely to be flooded than burgled so spending money to prevent huge damage to your home is something everyone should consider.’

It is hoped to distribute the remaining Dam Easy flood barriers in Midleton over the next two weeks.

Come September, the Midleton Men’s Shed will be attending the International Meeting of Men’s Sheds s in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, with more than 1,000 men attending.

But Midleton Men’s Shed will be able to tell all the other members that theirs is one of a kind: they don’t have the shed, but – by goodness – do they have the determination to ensure that their contributes to their community, by helping those in need, when the winter weather arrives.

And that, in short, is floody marvellous.