Flood-hit neighbours foil thieves who were on their way to rob evacuated homes in stolen army boat
Three neighbours living in a flooded community in Clare rowed in together last night to wash-out a two-man gang who were on their way to rob evacuated homes in a stolen army boat.
The inflatable defence forces dingy was stolen from a farmhouse in Springfield, Clonlara, around 8pm last night.
The gang was eventually cut off by two local men in another boat, as the thieves crossed a flooded field on their way towards unoccupied homes left vacant by evacuated families.
The two robbers made their escape and the boat was returned to the army.
"They were on their way over to houses which were evacuated by families forced out by the flood," said a local source.
"They said they were trying to get to Castleconnell but that's no where near here," they added.
A Garda source said: "They saw rich pickings in those houses. It's the lowest of the low."
"Imagine stealing a boat down here during the worst flood ever. That boat could be the difference between someone's life been saved in these treacherous waters," said a local woman.
"The fella who came across them told them to get the hell out of here or they'd be seeing bubbles," she added.
Another local source said: "I was awing along one of the banks and I saw them and I knew they weren't local lads. I followed them for a while and then they were cut off by a man in another boat."
"After that they walked up the road through the water in their bare feet and then they put their socks and shoes on," they added.
Gardai at Ardnacrusha are investigating.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that winter rainfall in Ireland is already well over average values for the first two months of the year combined, as the country recovers from its wettest December in the history of the State.
Gerald Fleming, forecaster with Met Éireann, said last month was the rainiest December since records began, and had been preceded by the wettest November.
“In many of our stations, we got more rainfall in December than we would expect to get in the whole winter – we define winter as December, January and February,” he said.
“We have already exceeded our winter rainfall just in that one month of exceptional conditions.”
Mr Fleming added that “the abnormal rainfall is now moving away from us” but stressed that even normal winter rainfall could present difficulties.
“Obviously, we’re starting off the day with very swollen rivers – rivers that are the highest they have been in some cases, with ground completely saturated,” he said.
“The normal winter rainfall will continue to impact because of that, but I think the abnormal rainfall I think we have seen the last of that for the moment at least.”
Speaking at a National Emergency Co-ordination Group briefing, Mr Fleming said most of the country had been spared rainfall in the past 24 hours.
“We had a few showers, particularly frequent in the South West and North East over Antrim, Derry and Down. But a lot of the country there was a good deal of bright, dry weather.
He added that widespread downpours were expected on Wednesday evening, but that it would not exceed historic rainfall levels.
“It will bring us 15-20mm of rain, depending on what part of the country we’re in but it would not be unusual,” he said.