Family business and home hit twice in month
THEY were braced for the 'perfect storm', but the awesome power of the water that surged into their home was far greater than Tom or Mary Kelly could have anticipated.
"It was terrifying," Mary recalled. "I was watching the level of the flood as it was rising on a house across the street and when it came up to the windowsills I started to feel really frightened and moved upstairs."
Along with her husband, Mary had fearlessly battled another flood less than a month before, on January 3, in a frantic bid to save their butcher's shop and home in Ballylongford in north Co Kerry from the worst of the damage.
It was to little avail as the waters crippled thousands of euros-worth of appliances and soaked into every part of their ground floor.
Last week's terrifying flood came just days after they had replaced the last of the expensive appliances ruined in January, "including the front cabinet for the shop at a cost of €6,000," said Mary.
"We had to get a new cooker, new washing machine, fridge and other items after the first flood, but thankfully we saved most of them by raising them on pallets and blocks. Everything except for the new washing machine that is," she added.
The Kellys' Bridge Street home was one of more than 20 flooded in the ordinarily sleepy Ballylongford last week – a combination of a storm and high tide pushing the Ballyline River back until it bursts its banks right in the centre of the village.
"Everyone was awake this time waiting for it. We had sandbags up that we had lined with plastic and sheets of timber at the back and front of the house, but none of it did any good. The water came in under the timber and even the sandbags couldn't contain it. But it was the speed at which it came in this time which was so frightening.
"Everything got wet downstairs. I had taken shoes off the bottom shelf in a press under the stairs and put them up higher but they still got soaked.
"I had library books in a bag hanging from the back of the armchair and even they were ruined.
"It definitely came up to 16 inches in the house and even spilled over the top of Tom's wellies while he was trying to save items," Mary added.
Ballylongford is bracing itself for yet another flood in a high tide next month as the community demands the use of massive sandbags on the weakest point of the Ballyline River.
But despite requesting this measure last week's storm, the village was left at its mercy – apart from the provision of council crews and fire fighters who worked tirelessly to pump Bridge Street clear.
"We're getting nothing and we have to highlight our plight," Mary said.