RATEPAYERS in Moyle could be hit with a £35,000 bill to repair damaged sea fronts along the north Antrim coast smashed in the massive sea surge storm earlier this month.
At a meeting of Moyle Council in Ballycastle last night (Monday January 13), the repair bill was worse than feared.
Initial estimates had put the tab for repairing damage at perhaps £10,000 but at last night’s meeting, Council official Aidan McPeake revealed the figure could be £35,000.
However he stressed that insurance might cover some of the repair cost and also central government at Stormont might also pick up part of the tab.
Some of the worst damage was caused at Cushendall which was battered by huge waves - some of the biggest ever seen - on Friday January 3 - and was also pummelled to a lesser extent on Monday January 6.
Mr McPeake said the initial clean-up work and the opening of a temporary path cost £5,000 but that the bill for more substantial repair work could be a further £30,000 and he said it could be a number of weeks before some of the damage is fixed.
However he said the aim was to get a path at Cushendall open today (Tuesday January 14).
Mr McPeake said they hoped to reduce the burdern on ratepayers through insurance pay-outs and also assistance from government departments.
Independent councillor Seamus Blaney believed there were “storm grants” available and Mr McPeake said that is a route they are investigating.
Cushendall Sinn Fein councillor Colum Thompson said he grew up near the sea in the town at Dalriada and never saw such raging tides before.
He said the damage was “really amazing” but wished to pay tribute to Moyle Council staff who pulled out all the stops to clean up after the force of nature slammed into Cushendall.
To have the path way re-opened within eight days of the Monday storm was an excellent effort, said Cllr Thompson.
The councillor said a sandbag store is needed in Cushendall.
Moyle Council Vice-Chairperson, Cllr Robert McIlroy (DUP), agreed a store of sandbags is needed and he said there were similar problems accessing sandbags when flooding hit Bushmills last year.
Cllr Joan Baird (Ulster Unionist) said she lives near the sea as well and said she never witnessed coastal swells like it which she believed were the worst since 1904, according to reports.
She said the power of the waves were illustrated when the relatively sheltered Portbradden area also suffered damage.