Monday 22 January 2018

Flooding: 'There wasn't time to save anything - we've nothing now'

Gerard Gallagher in his flood-damaged home in Burnfoot, Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Gerard Gallagher in his flood-damaged home in Burnfoot, Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ian Begley

A family in Donegal were watching television in their living room when flood waters burst the doors of their home, destroying their property and leaving the parents and their four children homeless.

Gerard and Lisa Gallagher of Pairc an Grianan, Burnfoot, were one of the 17 families left without a home following Tuesday's catastrophic rain and flooding.

They were enjoying a Tuesday evening inside watching television when the river beside them began to overflow.

The family have flood gates in place but they provided little defence against the rising waters.

"We were just watching TV one minute, then the next we saw the water coming in through the doors. I couldn't believe it," Mr Gallagher told the Irish Independent.

"We have flood gates that are about 4ft high, but they were no good at all. When the

water came in it reached as far as my waist."

As the rain continued, the estate's sewer system overflowed, resulting in raw sewage flowing into their home.

Nearby oil tankers were dislodged in the flooding and also seeped into the Gallaghers' home.

"The smell was absolutely atrocious," Mr Gallagher said.

"The oil tankers from the neighbouring houses had also fallen, which caused the contents to also enter our home".

Watching water engulf their home was deeply traumatic and resulted in one of the Gallagher children having a panic attack.

"My children were petrified and my 11-year-old boy, who is terrified of water, had a panic attack once we got him out."

Since the disaster, the Gallaghers have been placed in a local B&B.

But it is little comfort for a family who have lost everything. "We've nothing now, everything is gone," Mr Gallagher said. "There wasn't time to save anything because it happened so quickly. Our daughter, who is doing her Junior Cert next year, also lost all of her school books. It's so tragic and we haven't been able to sleep a wink since it happened.

"I had to bring my five-year-old boy to the doctor yesterday and it broke my heart when he told her that he had no home."

The family, who lived in a council house, said they have been flooded 12 times since they first moved in 15 years ago.

"It's all down to bad planning by the council. These homes should have never been built here and I'd love to know who got permission to develop them," Mr Gallagher said.

"I hope the Government are true to their word when they said they will provide relief to all the families affected by this flooding.

"We're just happy that we didn't lose our lives," he said.

Irish Independent

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