Desperate families battling floods with sandbags
HOUSEHOLDERS armed with sandbags were last night keeping watch as damaging floodwaters inched closer to their homes.
Fire crews went to the aid of stricken families in the flooded Northlands estate in Bettystown, Co Meath, yesterday as parts of the country experienced spot flooding due to heavy incessant rainfall.
Yet, even as some county councils provided sandbags, it emerged that as many as 32,000 householders countrywide may bear the brunt of the costs as they cannot get insurance to cover flood damage.
After a washout summer for the agriculture sector, farmers continued to count the costs as heavy rainfall washed crops out on to the road from a flooded field in Skerries, north Dublin.
Householders in Northlands helped to fill sandbags -- while one householder used his own vintage fire truck to pump water -- as floodwaters crept up to 3.5ft at the worst points.
Oran Drumgoole (34), who lives in the Northlands development, said the estate had suffered flooding problems every year since he bought the family house in 2006.
Mr Drumgoole said he would be keeping an anxious watch to see if the waters rose overnight, while some householders have already had to deal with toilets overflowing in their homes.
"It is heartbreaking to be honest," he said, adding that householders were now aware the land with a stream running through it was prone to flooding even before the estate was built.
He said householders were informed that an Office of Public Works (OPW) drainage programme in the area would help tackle the flooding problem. However, they had yet to see any improvement.
His wife carried their eldest son back from playschool while some older children waded through in their stockings.
Both Drogheda Fire Brigade and Navan Fire Brigade were pumping excess water out of the estate and an "adequate supply" of sandbags had been provided, Meath County Council said. "There have been no major incidents except for that one in Bettystown," it said.
Dublin City Council drainage staff dealt with about 100 road-flooding incidents.
Met Eireann figures showed the worst-hit areas were along the east of the country with 50mm falling in Dublin -- or half the average monthly total -- over a 36-hour period from Monday morning, and about 30mm in west Leinster.
"It is not record-breaking. We've had it on many occasions before," Met Eireann forecaster Vincent O'Shea said.
Up to 9mm were expected in the east Leinster area, from Dublin to Wexford, overnight. However, the forecaster said the "very worst is behind us" with lighter patchy showers expected today.
Meanwhile, it emerged insurers are still refusing to provide cover for properties if they are located in special flood zones. Owners of as many as 32,000 properties cannot get insurance despite flood defences costing hundred of millions of euro being built to protect them, an Oireachtas environment committee has heard.
In many cases, the OPW, has carried out state-of-the-art engineering works and installed barriers to make sure there is no repeat of the flooding.
Some householders cannot even sell their houses because they are in areas where insurers have used geo-coding and flood mapping and decided they are vulnerable to flooding.
Some 2pc of home insurance policies have a clause that excludes damage from flooding, the Irish Insurance Industry Federation said.