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Friday 19 September 2014

'Water just gushed in the door, we couldn't even save our dog'

Published 04/02/2014 | 02:30

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Junior minister Brian Hayes at Mary’s Park in Limerick as Geraldine Fitzgerald sits on the last of her furniture. Picture: BRIAN ARTHUR/ PRESS 22
Junior minister Brian Hayes at Mary’s Park in Limerick as Geraldine Fitzgerald sits on the last of her furniture. Picture: BRIAN ARTHUR/ PRESS 22

A WOMAN stands at the side of the street watching everything she owns being thrown into the back of a skip and taken away – worthless, contaminated and only fit for the dump.

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She cries silently, it's all she can do, and walks away unable to speak.

Treasured possessions built up over several years and generations, all lost. It was a familiar sight in Limerick as residents of King's Island, St Mary's Park and Athlunkard Street – old Limerick – started to pick up the pieces.

Geraldine Griffin and her daughter Megan had left their beloved pet Ben, a King Charles Spaniel, out the back door of their house on St Munchin's Street to relieve himself.

The water came so fast she didn't even have time to rescue him.

Yesterday, the dog lay dead in the backyard, waiting to be picked up along with all her other possessions scattered all over the estate.

"My oil tank broke off in the back and the spillage went everywhere. I'm in there now with two deckchairs, a microwave, a kettle and no heating," Geraldine said.

"The waters just gushed in the front door, breaking off the letter box, and we had no chance to get anything.

"We couldn't even get out to save Ben, God help us. If we had opened the back door we would have been finished ourselves. Megan cried her heart out over him.

"You spend all your life working and then what you have is just gone in a few minutes," she added.

Her neighbour Julie Kenrick opened the front door of her house the day after she had been evacuated by boat and the first thing she saw was an old photograph of her late mother Kathleen McGuane floating in the filthy water on her floor.

DESTROYED

"Raw sewage was coming up everywhere, through the toilet, the shower and the sinks.

"Everything is destroyed. I've nothing in my sitting room only three camping chairs. Every stick of furniture had to go," she said.

Niamh O'Brien (18), from Island View Terrace, lost her laptop and with it all the work she had put into her two years at the University of Limerick where she studies Maths and English.

She says the worst part was watching her little two-year-old nephew screaming when his toys floated out the door and on to the street when the fire brigade crew broke down the front door to rescue them from the house.

"He was in Leanne, my sister's, arms screaming, 'my choo choo, my choo'," she recalled.

But there is also a resilience among the people of Limerick with neighbour helping neighbour and volunteers dishing out refreshments at the Star Rovers' clubhouse in St Mary's Park.

As they continued their awful job of mopping up the mess that has devastated their homes and their lives, there was still good humour.

"The neighbours have been brilliant and have kept us going and everyone is helping," Mrs Kenrick added.

She said she only buried her sister eight weeks ago and could certainly have done without this.

She's also concerned about an unoccupied house next door that still hasn't been cleaned out – and wonders will it ever be.

And even though she was born in her house on St Munchin's Street, she now can't wait to leave it.

Irish Independent

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