A cracked water pipe that caused significant destruction to the Adapt Kerry Women's Refuge in Killeen, Tralee, has left residents, management and staff 'devastated' after thousands of Euro worth of damage resulted in women and children having to seek alternative accommodation in the middle of the night.
The incident occurred shortly after 12:30am on Friday when a 12-inch concrete pipe used to funnel water from Killarney to Tralee reservoir suddenly burst. The pipe was buried seven feet underground and ran along the back garden of the refuge. By 2am, water had seeped under doors and fire exits, damaging electrical appliances and children's toys.
The watermark reached two to three feet on the outside walls as Kerry Fire Service had to cut the electric current to sockets for safety. Tralee gardaí then helped arrange for transport to ferry residents to temporary apartments and houses around town, which had to be sourced in quick time.
"This is traumatic for people who are out of home already. We [the refuge] became the reservoir for a while, basically; it was indescribable," said General Manager of Adapt Kerry Women's Refuge, Catherine Casey.
"What's important is that we're still offering support, and women can still get in touch if they need support. It's business as usual as we can still provide accommodation for people. Our phone line (066 712 9100) is open 24/7," Catherine added.
But what started out as a traumatic experience for everyone soon turned into a rapid community response exercise as people did all they could to help.
"The Tralee community really got behind us and helped us find apartments. The gardaí station - and guards Pearse Ferriter and Mary Gardiner in particular - organised cars and taxis to move people, while Murt Quirke of Kerry County Council was here with us until 4am," said Catherine.
"Even after the water was cut off it still took a while for the line to empty - there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. The coordinated effort by everyone helped make the women and children feel safe.
"A lot of businesses have also been onto us offering help. We've been blown away by the generosity of the public," Catherine said.
To make a donation, visit: www.kerryrefuge.com