Sunday 4 December 2016

Mother forced to request life jackets said her family's 'lives are at risk' in floods

Residents in areas not yet under water on high alert as 'nasty' rain set to hit country

Niall O'Connor and Denise Calnan

Published 14/12/2015 | 15:15

Athlone has been badly hit by flooding
Athlone has been badly hit by flooding
Liam Butler helps with the clean-up at his friend Paul Clancy’s home in Annacotty in Limerick
A car drives through a flood where bales of silage were used in an effort to limit the damage to houses in Leitrim Village
Mike and Gertie Dunning pump water at their farm in Athlone
Anthony and Vera O’Donnell with their dog Princess, which died in the flooding at their home in Richmond Park, Corbally, in Limerick
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan is briefed by fireman Denis King in Limerick
13/12/15 Locals on their way with sandbags to help the flood relief at Annacotty, Limerick. Picture: Arthur Carron
13/12/15 Road closures at Annacotty, Limerick due to bad flooding. Picture: Arthur Carron
13/12/15 Rosie the King Charles struggles with the flooding at Annacotty in Limerick. Picture: Arthur Carron
Corbally in Limerick is flooded
Flooding from the city canal that affected homes in Richmond Park, Corbally in Limerick. Picture: Arthur Carron
Liz Hogan with two of her children, Aoife and Mark, and the Civil Defence in East Clare
STRUGGLE: People try to hold back the flood waters after the Blackwater burst its banks in Clonlara yesterday afternoon
Emergency workers recover a car in Corbally in Limerick

A Limerick woman has said her family's "lives are at risk" after floodwaters have forced them from their homes for the second time in just six years.

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Geraldine Quinlivan lives a mile and a half from the River Shannon but was forced to request life jackets from emergency services after flood waters rushed into her home.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Drivetime, Geraldine described the situation as 'frightening'.

"We returned to the house in a boat. You couldn't make it up," she said.

"We had to source life jackets from Limerick Search and Rescue, you couldn't make it up.

"I'm back at home. It's less stressful because at least I know the boys and Joe are safe.

Mike and Gertie Dunning pump water at their farm in Athlone
Mike and Gertie Dunning pump water at their farm in Athlone

"When I wasn't at home and they weren't answering the phone I was thinking 'oh my God, are they dead at home'.

"The water is going down and we welcome any inch it goes down. The amount of water on the road is just frightening.

Anthony and Vera O’Donnell with their dog Princess, which died in the flooding at their home in Richmond Park, Corbally, in Limerick
Anthony and Vera O’Donnell with their dog Princess, which died in the flooding at their home in Richmond Park, Corbally, in Limerick

"This should never be allowed happen us again, it's just not right."

Geraldine said the family, from Clonlara, Limerick will not put up a Christmas tree this year as a mark of respect to her brother whose home has been destroyed in the flood.

Athlone has been badly hit by flooding
Athlone has been badly hit by flooding

"We experienced this in 2009, but it wasn't this bad.

"At that stage my mother had mobility issues. Imagine the indignity as a woman in her late seventies was brought out of her home on the back of a low-loader in her wheelchair because nothing else could go in for her.

"We are all just exhausted. This has to be sorted. Our lives are at risk down here at the minute, this is twice now in six years.

"I don't live on a flood plain. I live a mile and a half from the River Shannon.

"We're not thinking about Christmas," she continued.

"We won't be putting up a Christmas tree out of respect to my brother and his wife and sons who are homeless at the moment due to the flooding.

"I couldn't put one up knowing they're not with us, as in living next door to us."

Geraldine said the community are laying the blame at the door of the various Government agencies in charge of maintaining the River Shannon.

"We are laying the blame firmly and squarely at the door of various Government agencies responsible for the running of the river.

"We identified a solution to the problem back in 2006 and it has fallen on deaf ears.

"We need to clear the blockage on the river, it's all vegetation, islands, you name it."

Meanwhile, areas that have yet to impacted by Storm Desmond face the prospect of being flooded in the coming days as “nasty” periods of rain hit the country.

Met Éireann today warned that rainfall of up to 50mm is on the cards as parts of the country continue to reel from flooding in recent days.

It was confirmed today that a “severe flood situation” remains in place along the Shannon Catchment area, which has seen river levels rise significantly.

Forecaster Gerald Fleming said that while there are no plans as of yet to issue a fresh weather warning, several areas face the prospect of heaving and prolonged spells of rain over the next six or seven days.

He said that areas in the south and south west of the country - including Wexford, South Kilkenny, Waterford, South Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Galway - are most at risk.

Mr Fleming said that depending on the events in the coming days, some of these areas face the prospect of flooding.

“A number of those rain events have the potentially to turn nasty. And potentially they could cause flooding in areas which have had no flooding so far if that were to happen,” he said, adding that this is a “very small probability”.

Mr Fleming was speaking to the media following a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group.

The group said that its focus of concern remains the Shannon Catchment Area.

Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works (OPW) told reporters that water levels in the lower Shannon catchment, in between Limerick City and Lough Derg, will peak on Monday.

He said that a similar situation is expected in the mid catchment area up at Athlone, but that levels may take longer to peak. There has also been a rise in the Brosna river at Ferbane in Offaly.

“I would stress again we are still on a severe flood situation on Shannon catchment.” Mr Casey said.

Chairman of the National Emergency Coordination Group, John Barry, said that there are still situations of concern in Athlone and in the lower Shannon. He said that rising water levels caused flooding in the Corbally area of Limerick.

“While there has been significant effects in areas affected though, and while there is disruption in roads and railways in places, life in most of the country is continuing as normal,” Mr Barry said.

The ESB said today that water discharge from Parteen Weir will remain the same at 440 cubic centimetres per second. This is because water levels in Lough Derg have stabilised.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment is today considering the cost submissions made by local councils involved in the clean up. A memo being devised by Environment Minister Alan Kelly is due to go to Cabinet tomorrow.

The Department of Social Protection confirmed that it has to date received around 100 requests for humanitarian assistance. While the Red Cross has been contacted by a similar number in relation to emergency assistance for businesses, no applications have yet been made.

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