Family of six face New Year apart as water besieges home
A family of six who evacuated during the floods nearly three weeks ago could be forced to spend New Year's Eve scattered across relatives' homes as their own house remains surrounded by water.
For Mike and Liz Hogan, the nightmare continues after Storm Desmond, which hit earlier this month.
On December 9, they left their home in Clonlara in southeast Clare for emergency accommodation in a hotel over the county border in Limerick.
They had previously been forced to leave their home in 2009 when floods decimated their area.
After two weeks of living apart in relatives' houses, Mike, Liz and their sons Mark (18), Seán (17) and daughters Aoife (12) and Sarah (26) managed to spend a few hours together on Christmas Day under the one roof, thanks to Liz's mother.
"We woke up on Christmas morning all together in Liz's sister's house, which was great, then we went visiting," Mr Hogan said.
"We stayed in Liz's mother's house and we cooked our dinner up there and it was grand. We had a fire on and we were all able to sit down for a couple of hours together."
On Christmas Eve, Liz tried to reach their home after being told that the waters had receded. In the event, the family car was overwhelmed by water and she had to be rescued by members of the Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service.
"We are definitely out for the New Year," Mr Hogan said.
With a 12-year old daughter and two young sons studying for their Leaving and Junior Certs, the Hogans said they couldn't stay in their home, which is still surrounded by several feet of contaminated flood water.
Every few days, Mike and Liz check in at the swamped house, making an arduous journey by boat or in waders.
"We just went in and bleached everything, because the septic tank is not working," Mr Hogan said. "We are going to try to see what the story is now about getting more secure accommodation."
"We can't be all staying in separate homes with relations for extended periods of time. The kids are ringing Liz all the time, looking to see when they are going home.
"We went down to our house yesterday and at the front gates it was above my knees. If we were to try and get in the back, it's up to our waist. It's a no-go."
Ms Hogan said being outside the family home over Christmas had been particularly hard.
He explained: "There was a lot of tears over Christmas.
"The water is on my thighs at out front gate, so we have to climb over a neighbour's fence to get to ours."
The Hogans are in talks with Clare County Council to secure accommodation in Limerick, where they work and where their children go to school.