Response to flooding has been akin to sticking a bush in a dam
Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30
Usually on a Wednesday morning, I am sitting at my laptop in my kitchen, trying to cobble this column together. But last week I went for a walk, a long one down the farm. I had nothing written but it was the first bright morning in what seemed like forever and I just had to be out in it.
The fields are saturated but only patches are under water. I looked up. Instead of the gloomy greyness that has been weighing heavily on the land, the sky was high and it was blue. And the grass was green. It was like switching from black and white TV to colour. It was cold but a crisp coldness rather than a damp one. Invigorating rather than exhausting.
There was a sense of spring in the air. I know there has been growth throughout the winter - one lady told me how her early daffodils started to appear in September when the late ones were not long gone - but this morning had a sense of rebirth, a fresh start.
High in the sky, amidst the wisps of cirrus clouds, I could see six planes and their trails, most of them travelling East to West. It was a magnificent sight and I momentarily wondered what stories lay before and adventures behind the many hundreds of people on board.
But my thoughts turned quickly to an area to the west that's much closer, to the many people along the Shannon whose homes, farms and businesses have been decimated by floodwaters.
Everybody has faced some inconvenience from the rains and most farms have encountered difficulties due to the rapid filling of slurry tanks. But the overwhelmingly feeling is one of counting blessings.
I have never been in a flooded house but, almost every day for weeks, we have been reading and hearing stories of more heartbreak due to flooding. It got to the stage where I nearly stopping turning on the news because it is so upsetting, to see lives being turned upside down and livelihoods wiped out.
What makes the ongoing hardship all the worse is the sense that, even when the floodwaters do eventually abate, they will be back. Instead of guarantees that this won't happen again, there is the inevitabile sense it will.