It really is like a tsunami here...people are absolutely distraught' - homeowners and businesses continue to fight rising flood waters
Locals in a south Kilkenny town were fighting a losing battle, last night as flood waters continued to rise devastating scores of businesses and homeowners.
Around midnight on Tuesday, the river Barrow and Duiske stream burst their banks in Graiguenamanagh, causing people to run out of pubs along the main street as flood waters dramatically washed away entrance doors with many home-owners having to rescued by fire units.
Junior Minister for Rural Affairs, Ann Phelan, who lives in the medieval town said the town was like as if, “a tsunami has hit.” The Minister was out helping locals throughout yesterday.
“It really is like a tsunami here. I’ve been out throughout the night trying to help those badly affected. We have had flooding in the past but nothing ever like this. We have people trapped in their houses and apartments. People are just absolutely distraught.
“The army is also helping. The river is still rising significantly which is a massive worry. We didn’t think we would be hit in such a bad way. The Duiske stream is causing most of the trouble. The force from the river is unbelievable - it’s like a torrent. We have been calling for a flood relief scheme for years.
“The Office of Public Works (OPW) are looking at trying to help us with some sort of scheme but something just has to be done now. I have been in contact with officials within my Department overnight and provided a report on seriousness of the situation.
“Effected businesses can avail of the €8m scheme being operated by the Red Cross and private houses can avail of funding via the Department of Social Protection.
Junior Minister with special responsibility for the OPW Simon Harris, visited the area last night and met with affected residents and business owners.
The main street, quay areas remained impassable despite ongoing frantic efforts by emergency services to alleviate the situation. Tractors and diggers were the only forms of transport that would get through flood waters that were waist deep.
Business and homeowners are left counting the cost of thousands of euros in damage - the majority of which cannot get insurance due to flooding in the past.
Michael Doran, owner of the Supervalu supermarket, who has been in business for more than 30 years said: “This is the worst I’ve ever seen. The situation here really deteriorated by 2am on Wednesday.
“The majority of businesses around here cannot open and are left trying to clean up but there is the very real chance of flooding getting worse. Within minutes the place looked like an Irish version of Venice.
Also coping with the devastation was local Wayne Holden, “People here are just in shock as to what has happened. It’s just awful.”
Boots moored along the river were left floating on the roads submerged in the flood waters. Several access roads into the town were also blocked. The town was last flooded in 2008.
Meanwhile, in Thomastown, has experienced it’s worst flooding since 1968, with the army being called in to help residents and business owners battle rising waters along Market Street and Quay street.
Shem Caulfied, an owner affected by the floods has seen his home being badly affected. He was left trying to get around in the town by boat. “It is just horrendous. What can you do? You can’t control nature. But we are left trying to pick up the pieces again. Not a great start to a new year at all.”