Grandmother devastated after pet dog drowns in flooded living room
Homes in Limerick were flooded and a pet dog drowned when council officials were unable to open canal lock gates to relieve rising water, it has emerged.
Locals believe if the gates at the Park Canal had been opened as it rose dangerously high their homes in Corbally would have been saved.
Grandmother Vera Donnelly was left devastated when her pet dog, Princess, drowned as the overflow from the canal rose inside her home in Richmond Park on Saturday night.
She and her husband Anthony had put their dogs on chairs as they attempted to scoop up the water and stop it coming in to the hall.
"I was trying to stop the water because it was coming in the back and the front. I was trying to save the sitting room when my son-in-law asked where the dog was," she said.
The family eventually discovered their three-year-old Chihuahua floating behind their television.
"I did everything for her last night. I tried to breathe down her throat but she must have been dead a while," said Ms Donnelly, describing how she attempted to resuscitate her.
Mr Donnelly said it was the worst night of his life, with sewage also flowing through their home.
"It was a horrible night. It is terrible and we could have been saved if the gates had been open in the canal," he said. "The water came into the house above the second step on the stairs," he added.
"You would not have been able to walk in here with wellingtons on."
The 14 homes affected by the overflow were unprepared as the canal is usually able to release water when necessary.
Councillors at the scene had claimed the city and county council had difficulty sourcing keys to open the gates.
Limerick City and County Council said Waterways Ireland had been contacted as the canal rose and "that the keys were available for the canal lock gates".
"However, due to the flow of water the gates were unable to open without assistance and machinery had to be brought in to assist the opening mechanism," said a spokeswoman.
"The difficulties that arose will be reviewed in consultation with Waterways Ireland."
Waterways Ireland was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Irish Independent last night.
By the time the gate was eventually opened on Saturday night, a prefab building in Ardscoil Mhuire, Corbally, was also damaged and its playground contaminated after water and sewage filled the grounds. Cars parked at the school by Munster fans attending a match in nearby Thomond Park were also damaged.
Limerick TD Jan O'Sullivan, who is also Education Minister, was at the scene yesterday and said the canal situation needed to be reviewed urgently.
"We need to find out why it happened because there had not been a problem with the canal before during previous floods," she said.
"I understand that the gates in the canal were closed and then were opened and closed again. They had difficulty opening them last night and by the time they opened them the water had come into people's houses."
Independent councillor John Gilligan said the council needed to manage floods more efficiently.
"They spent two days trying to get keys to open the lock gates there in order to relieve the water pressure," he said. "When they tried to open them they could not."
Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan added: "This could have been prevented if that gate was opened. We need to make sure that this does not happen again."
The flooding occurred due to record levels on the Mulcair River, the Blackwater River and increased discharge through Parteen Weir.