Tuesday 21 November 2017

Confusion as Donegal still waits for 30 soldiers sent to help after flash flood devastation

  • Defence Forces were expected to arrive in Donegal this morning
  • Locals are still waiting for the 30 soldiers to arrive at lunchtime
  • More soldiers will be deployed if necessary - says minister
  • Heavy rain fell overnight again in Donegal
  • More than 100 people had to be rescued from cars and homes
  • Homes, businesses and football pitches destroyed
  • Estimated cost of clean up to reach millions of euro
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
A man looks at a tractor which has fallen into a hole after a road collapsed in Iskaheen. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Flooding hit parts of Derry.
Flooding hit parts of Derry.
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Damage to the main Derry to Moville road in Co Donegal caused by the force of a flooded river overnight, after heavy rain left a trail of destruction. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA

Catherine Devine, Cormac McQuinn and Denise Calnan

There is confusion in Donegal as locals waited for the 30 soldiers who were sent to help after flash flooding hit on Tuesday night.

Flood-hit communities in the north-west were expecting the platoon to arrive at 9am this morning to help with the flood relief.

Just after 2pm today, the army arrived at Burnfoot, Co Donegal.

The Red Cross were also being sent to Donegal to administer a flood relief scheme for small businesses.

More than 100 people had to be rescued from cars and houses due to sudden flash flooding in Donegal, Tyrone and Derry on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Across Inishowen alone, the scale of the disaster was described as unprecedented and catastrophic, with the Irish Government opening an emergency fund for immediate assistance and clean-up. The damage is expected to run up a repair bill in the multi-millions.

Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Devastation in Carndonagh and Inishowen Photo: Jimmy Stafford
Damage to the main Derry to Moville road in Co Donegal caused by the force of a flooded river overnight, after heavy rain left a trail of destruction. Photo: Brian Hutton/PA
Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran inspects a damaged home in Burnfoot. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Transport Minister Shane Ross talks to Kathleen Molly in her flood-hit home in Burnfoot. Photo: Caroline Quinn
23 Aug 2017; General view of flood-damaged football pitch at Cockhill Celtic grounds, with treadmill that was carried the length of the pitch from the adjacent Dunree Boxing Club. Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Aine Durkin outside her flood-damaged home in Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Photo: Caroline Quinn
23 Aug 2017; General view of flood-damage boxing club. Dunree Boxing Club, Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Annette’s Hair Salon owner Annette Doherty (right) and friend Tina McDaid cleaning up after the floods. Photo: Caroline Quinn
General view of flood-damaged boxing club in Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Floods in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Photo Jimmy Stafford
Flooding hit parts of Derry.
Flooding hit parts of Derry.
Flooding hit parts of Derry.

Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has pledged that the government will provide Donegal County Council with "whatever funding is necessary" to deal with what he called a "disaster zone".

Mr Moran made the promise as he estimated that up to 500 homes may have been impacted by the floods and spoke of damaged infrastructure that will need to be repaired.

The OPW minister - who has responsibility for flood relief - was speaking after a multi-agency emergency meeting in Dublin this morning.

He also pleaded with insurance companies not to blacklist householders whose homes have been hit by the floods.

Mr Moran denied that the government's response has been too little too late and he vowed: "We'll be there with the people and we'll stand by people in relation to this disaster that's taken place up there."

Mr Moran refused to estimated the cost of the damage but said it will be "a lot oh money".

He said the authorities are in the early stages of assessing the costs adding: "It's a disaster zone up there in Donegal."

Speaking to RTE's Morning Ireland, Super Junior Minister Paul Kehoe, who is Minister of State for Defence, said the choice of number was an "operational matter."

"The number of 30 soldiers... well, that was an operational matter between Donegal County Council and the Defence Forces," Minister Kehoe said.

"What I don't want to see is 60-70 people arriving into Donegal and standing around with nothing to do.

"They will be deployed in a proper fashion."

The minister also said the number will be reassessed today and more soldiers can be sent to the area if necessary.

"This morning the Defence Forces will arrive in Donegal to help with the clean-up.

"When the troops arrive, we will decide how best to deploy members and how best for them to assist in the clean-up

"I welcome this. We need to bring life back to normality.

"Minister Joe McHugh briefed me. I assisted by sending 30 members and more will go if necessary, depending on what happens today.

"As you've already seen, over 200 homes have been affected, roads, bridges.... the tourism industry is affected too. It's devastating to see the damage caused. But the army will be here to assist."

More than 150 households were affected in Donegal. People needing financial help for food and everyday essentials, cleaning, structural work and white goods were urged to apply at welfare offices.

In Derry, more than 200 households reported needing assistance following flooding. Dozens of businesses were also affected, some seeing cars and vehicles swept away.

Minister Joe McHugh has announced that a Defence Forces platoon will arrive in Donegal this morning to help with the clean-up after the flood disaster.

Minister McHugh had been in discussions with Cabinet colleague Paul Kehoe, Minister for Defence, about assistance after the devastation caused by Tuesday night’s disaster.

Some 30 Defence Forces personnel will be deployed in Inishowen from 9am today.

“I want to thank my colleague the Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe who has been ready to assist wherever he can,” said Minister McHugh.

“I also want to thank the Defence Forces who once again remain ready to help citizens when they are in need.

“It became increasingly clear on Wednesday that as Donegal County Council tried to estimate the damage done that the picture was getting progressively worse and earlier today – having seen the devastation first hand - I asked for help from the Defence Forces and contacted Minister Kehoe.

“Many assessents of damage remain to be done. However it was also clear more help is needed on the ground.

“I’m conscious that local people in local communities are helping each other and I want to pay tribute to all those involved.

“I’ve been assured that more Defence Forces personnel will be deployed should they be needed.”

Weather warning

Two status yellow weather warnings were issued for five counties yesterday evening and remains in place until today Friday at 3pm.

Galway, Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim are expected to receive heavy rainfall today.

Donegal was warned to prepare for more rain as another 20 to 30 millimetres was expected to fall on the county last night.

The status yellow rainfall warning was issued at 6pm on Thursday and will remain in place until 6pm today.

Met Éireann forecaster, Liz Walsh, told Independent.ie that there will be heavy rain in some parts of the country.

Today will be mostly cloudy in the northern half of the country, with outbreaks of rain expected in Connacht, Ulster and in north Leinster but drier further south. However the bad weather is set to spread across the country as the day goes on.

The weather should settle on Saturday and it's expected to stay bright and mostly dry, with sunny spells and just a few scattered showers across the north and north eastern parts of the country.

Sunday is set for some bright spells in parts of the east and south, but mostly cloudy, with outbreaks of rain and drizzle across the country.

Temperatures over the weekend will range from 16 degrees to 20 degrees.

Online Editors

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