It is now five months since the worst storms in living memory brought down roads and bridges, swept cars into rivers and resulted in hundreds of people having to evacuate their homes as floodwaters gushed in.
The village of Durmahoe was one of the areas worst affected by the August floods, and the Three Mile House on the banks of the River Faughan was among those businesses devastated in the deluge.
Now, almost five months on, and after an extensive clean-up operation, the completely refurbished Three Mile House Bar will officially re-open this weekend.
And it was no mean feat. General Manager, Tom McClintock, recalls the mammoth task that befell the owner and staff after they assessed the damage caused. Reflecting back on that night, Mr McClintock said: “It started at about 7 o’clock that evening, straight through then, and it was 3am or 4am when we left the premises.
“The water just kept constantly rising and rising and came over the top of the reinforced wall that had been built. It came right up over the top and split into two rivers so she was coming right down the road here.”
Within a few hours of the storms, it became clear there was no way The Three Mile House - which was undergoing major renovations at the time, to create a fashionable new bar and restaurant to the rear overlooking the river- was going to escape the rapidly rising torrents.
“The bar was actually 80 per cent completely refurbished at that stage,” Mr. McClintock noted. “The only thing that was missing was the upholstery. We had been doing the work all year. It was to be a bar and restaurant. We had a re-opening date in mind for first week of December, 2017.
“The restaurant area however was devastated, so we had to go ahead and try to get something pulled back to recover the costs that had already spent.”
Mr. McClintock said the new windows installed along the restaurant, looking out over a beautiful, tranquil riverside scene, were torn off by the force of the water.
Tom and staff returned the next day to a scene of total devastation at the now water-logged bar and they were evacuated by the police as the nearby bridge was under a structural review.
“When we arrived it was unreal,” he maintained. “The damage included seating, floors, radiators, electricity, timber, toilets and new equipment which was sitting there as part of the new refurb. Bay windows were clean washed out.”
And the damage wasn’t confined to the bar and restaurant.
“The off licence and its contents were destroyed. It was fully stocked for Christmas. There’s a basement here and it was filled with water and it destroyed everything in the basement. We had antique materials belonging to the bars over the last 40 years, items that had been gathered to put in the refurbished bar, our stock, chairs, were all destroyed.
The hardest part was the clean up, the floods brought everything in, so we had to get it de-sanitised. It took a good month and a fortune in oil heating. It had wiped the boiler too because that was in the basement.
“I was here every day, everything had to redone. Everything had to be shovelled out and shifted into skips.”
Like many other businesses set in such stunning locations overlooking rivers and waterways, proximity actually meant the business was unable to claim back the money needed to start again from insurance.
Nevertheless, the owners and staff persevered and the determination and re-investment has paid off as the totally revamped bar has now been totally refurbished with 90 yards of reclaimed parquet flooring, real wood panelling and bespoke fixtures and fittings throughout.
He paid tribute to his boss, as well as his colleague, bar manager Albert Allen and staff, the local community and local businesses, all of whom went that extra mile to ensure that the freak floods did not lead to the end of the road for the Three Mile House.
Re-establishing the Three Mile House in Drumahoe would not have been possible without the help of the local community, Mr McClintock said, as he paid tribute to all customers, local businesses and local people who have helped ensure the businesses managed to get back on its feet.
“It’s a brilliant spot and the bar is looking fantastic now,” Mr McClintock said.
“Everything down to the very pint glasses and optics had to be renewed.
“The help of the local community was absolutely outstanding. We wouldn’t have done it without them.
“Local businesses, anybody with pick-ups and lorries loaned us their stuff too. Chambers Concrete loaned us equipment because we had no water for weeks, or electric.”
Mr McClintock said local community worker Willie Lamrock and Councillor Graham Warke had been instrumental in helping to provide advice and pointers for the staff and management team during the crisis.
He said there were difficulties, however, in trying to secure help and assistance from various statutory agencies and companies at the time and while there were facilities for households affected by the floods set up, the assistance on offer was largely unavailable for businesses. “At the end of the day it was a freak accident, but all we were looking for was a bit of help, and we got nothing. We were reimbursed with nothing.”
Nevertheless, with the help of the community and the commitment of the bat team, there is, he added, a sense of pride that five months on the bar is back open for business after a mammoth effort.
And the refurbishment in other areas is set to continue, with the restaurant plans set to get back on track this year along with other works on site.
“We are going to try and have it opened this year by the end of the year,” Mr McClintock concluded.