Wednesday 28 September 2016

'The whole county is under siege' - President Higgins visits flood victims in Galway

Declan Rooney

Published 04/01/2016 | 13:09

President Michael D Higgins affected by the story of Noreen Flaherty (84) from Hawhill, Gort who was forced to leave her home after she was surrounded by floods last week.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins affected by the story of Noreen Flaherty (84) from Hawhill, Gort who was forced to leave her home after she was surrounded by floods last week. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins meeting with IFA Connaught Regional Chairman and floods project team Tom Turley during his visit to flood stricken areas of South Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins meeting with the Hayes and the Hogan familes who where forced to leave their home due to floods in south Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins affected by the story of Sarah Burke from Cahermore, Co. Galway who was forced to leave her home with her young family after she was surrounded by floods last week during his visit to South Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the countless local volunteers and service providers that are keeping flood water at bay in south Co Galway.

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Speaking after his visit to the flood hit village of Labane near Gort this morning, President Higgins called for co-operation between the various state agencies and appealed for an accelerated reaction to the flooding crisis.

The President spoke to a number of locals affected by the flooding, people who have been forced from their homes as well as the local volunteers, Civil Defence and Army personnel that have been working in the area.

“I wanted particularly to just hear the details of Labane area. The particular features of it here of course are the number of houses that are isolated and marooned,” said President Higgins.

President Michael D Higgins affected by the story of Sarah Burke from Cahermore, Co. Galway who was forced to leave her home with her young family after she was surrounded by floods last week during his visit to South Galway.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins affected by the story of Sarah Burke from Cahermore, Co. Galway who was forced to leave her home with her young family after she was surrounded by floods last week during his visit to South Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk

“I wanted to hear the experience that people have had for themselves and for their families and for their animals.

“But I wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude to all of the different agencies that have been working together.

President Michael D Higgins meeting with the Hayes and the Hogan familes who where forced to leave their home due to floods in south Galway.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins meeting with the Hayes and the Hogan familes who where forced to leave their home due to floods in south Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk

“There has been very great cooperation from the local authority and the army who have been here since the December 9, bring feed to animals as well as looking after the people, the Civil Defence, the community itself.”

President Higgins will visit Enniscorthy in Wexford later this afternoon to see another devastated community, but he called on agencies like the local councils, the Office of Public Works, and the National Parks and Wildlife to continue to work together and to expedite their efforts.

President Michael D Higgins meeting with IFA Connaught Regional Chairman and floods project team Tom Turley during his visit to flood stricken areas of South Galway.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins meeting with IFA Connaught Regional Chairman and floods project team Tom Turley during his visit to flood stricken areas of South Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk

“It's very important that we not just say that this is wonderful that it's happening, I wanted to meet the people that in fact the front line people, as well as people that are working in the name of the State.

“Then I have been thinking about it as well, in relation to where we have to go now. If there is a lesson I think in it, it is that we must have inter agency cooperation.

President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk

“This is inter agency cooperation that is first class and it needs to continue in arriving at a strategy.”

One local woman from Lisserdrea, Co Roscommon told RTE Radio One News at One this afternoon how her family have had no running water or sewage works for almost a fortnight.

President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
President Michael D Higgins visited flood stricken areas of South Galway and met with flood-affected families. Picture: Hany Marzouk

"The whole county is under siege," Ann Brady said.

"We have been in this situation for a number of weeks.

"Different bodies say 'we have to do this', 'we have to do that' before they can help us.

"I had to ring 999 last Tuesday to get a service to help me. The local gardai sourced Loughrea aqua services to get sand bags to us.

"We have had no running water and no sewage for the last week and a half," she continued.

"We are up all night and all day trying to keep the water circulating, that's all we can do.

"I have lived here for 32 years, my husband has lived here all his life and this is definitely a 'new problem'.

"The water is like a lake, it's not going away anywhere."

Meanwhile, a Met Eireann forecaster said today that the country is heading towards a 'cooler period' but there is still a risk of flooding.

"We're heading into a cooler period, still a wet period but it will be an end to the unusually high levels of rainfall.

"But the waterlogged fields means that the amount of rain may still cause a problem in days to come."

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