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Floods at Dundrum shopping centre

IT'S the showcase of Irish retail but Dundrum Town Centre was devastated by a 7ft wall of water.

Hundreds of shoppers and store workers were forced to abandon their cars overnight after floods cascaded into the centre.

Retailers were today assessing the extensive damage which saw stores wrecked and stock ruined.

Seven-foot walls of water raced in at the height of last-night's flooding, washing furniture and shop fittings away, ripping up footpaths, and inundating the lift shafts.

A massive clean-up operation was in full swing today, after emergency teams worked through the night to pump out the deluge and try to restore power.

General manager Don Nugent said they had asked the ESB to disconnect them from the main electricity supply for safety reasons last night and the centre ran on generator power as people worked through the night to clear the flooding, which affected around one third of the shops.

Reconnection to the electricity supply would take hours and "we will not be opening today," he said. "The deluge was unprecedented."

One woman today described how she was lucky to be alive after becoming trapped in a virtual human goldfish bowl in a lift.

Mary Hallissey from Balheary was deluged by several feet of water as she exited a lift into the car park.

"The lift doors opened and suddenly I found myself waist deep in water," she revealed. At one point she was trapped and had to smash through a thick pane of door glass to escape. "It was very scary as I could see no one around," she said.

Staff working in Dundrum were today recalling how they were told to evacuate just before 8pm.

"There was a panic to get everyone out. We didn't have time to even close the tills or pull down the shutters, we were just told to go immediately," said one shop assistant.

"First the alarms went off and then all the security staff were just going from shop to shop ordering everyone out. We got out okay, but then we saw the water begin to flow out the main doors.

"There was one man in a high-viz jacket using a large mop to push the water out and everyone was screaming at him that there was a waterfall coming tearing down the aisle behind him from Butlers cafe.

"He turned and saw the wall of water, dropped the mop and ran for it. All the tables and chairs from Butler's were washing down behind him."