Tuesday 22 October 2019

Hospital evacuated after storms cause flood chaos

Breda Heffernan and Stephen Maguire

A HOSPITAL had to be evacuated of dozens of patients after its new €20m A&E unit was flooded with several feet of water.

In a day of chaos caused by torrential rain, Letterkenny General Hospital in Co Donegal was one of the worst affected, with patients taken to safety as up to three feet of water gushed through the corridors and into wards.

In Dublin, dozens of homes in the north inner city were inundated, roads were left impassable and parts of Croke Park were flooded.

The emergency operation swung into action in Letterkenny yesterday evening as fire crew worked to pump out the rainwater and off-duty staff rushed back to the hospital to help evacuate patients and save medical files.

The flooding was caused after a stream at the back of the hospital became congested and flowed over into the hospital.

The intense thundery downpour started at about 5pm and lasted for a full hour, creating havoc. Firefighters heaped sandbags on to hospital trolleys as they desperately tried to control the damage.

A large section of the hospital was left under water including the Emergency Department, Radiology, Outpatients, Pathology and Medical Records, several wards and kitchens. The new A&E unit – which was opened by Health Minister James Reilly just three months ago – was badly damaged.

There is no risk to patients currently in the hospital, stated the HSE West.

Sean Murphy, general manager at Letterkenny General Hospital, said staff and authorities were working through the night to ensure the area was cleared of water. "We are able to use the day surgery and outpatient facilities," he said.

However, local Sinn Fein TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn said he would be demanding answers from the HSE as this was the second time the unit flooded.

"I will be demanding answers from the HSE on why lessons from the previous flooding were not learnt? How could such a costly project not have mitigated against any threat from flooding at planning stage?" he said.

Elsewhere in Letterkenny, dozens of houses were flooded in the Glenwood Park estate while several graves were damaged when a 50-foot section of wall collapsed at Conwal graveyard outside the town.

In Dublin, homes were flooded for the second time this week, Luas services were suspended for a time following a lightning strike on a substation, roads were left impassable and there was minor damage to parts of Croke Park.

Jones's Road beside the stadium was under two feet of water while floodwaters seeped into the players' lounge, although the dressing-rooms and pitch were not affected.

The three All-Ireland matches planned for today will go ahead.

However, residents on Oriel Street in the north inner city were not so lucky and were left counting the cost of flash flooding – for the second time this week.

John Ross (24), who lives on the street with his mother, Noeleen (50), said three feet of floodwater built up outside their back door as drains were unable to handle the sudden deluge.

They had sandbags at the ready and were able to prevent most of the water from coming into their home, however sewerage was backed up into their shower, causing damage.

"We had to throw out the kitchen and bedroom units the last time. This time, within an hour we had three feet of water and we had to put the furniture up on bricks," he said.

"We shouldn't have to live like this. This is four times in four years and we get no help at all from the corporation."

Another resident, Danielle McKenna (32), who is pregnant, said her neighbours' basement flat was destroyed for the second time this week.

Her landlord was in the process of cleaning out the flat following Wednesday night's flash flooding when it was inundated again yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, services on the Luas Green Line were suspended between Bride's Glen and Beechwood following a lightning strike at Glencairn.

Fire crews were busy dealing with flooding around the Raheny, Kilbarrack, Clontarf and north inner city areas of Dublin during the late afternoon.

Irish Independent

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