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‘Hero gardai’ rescued forty from storm in Limerick

Sean Curtin's picture from Wedneaday shows how close the Shannon came to bursting its banks during the wild storm that hit the city last week. Below, Aoife McLoughlin - 'Henry St gardai were our heroes'

Sean Curtin's picture from Wedneaday shows how close the Shannon came to bursting its banks during the wild storm that hit the city last week. Below, Aoife McLoughlin - 'Henry St gardai were our heroes'

  • by Brian O’Connor
 

ALMOST FORTY people were rescued from the storm conditions that battered Limerick last week by two gardai based in Henry Street, who eye-witnesses claim acted heroically to bring bystanders to safety.

Sergeants John Flanagan and Ollie Kennedy took decisive action to help a number of people who found themselves stranded at the junction of Mallow Street and Henry Street as 160kph winds swept through the city at around 1.45pm last Wednesday.

Three female colleagues were buffeted from the corner of Mallow Street down a portion of Henry Street although they were “holding onto whatever (they) could find - poles, railings, anything”.

The power of the gale knocked one of them to the ground.

Grace O’Mara from Norwood Park dislocated her shoulder from that fall: “The breeze caught us, I went to grab a pole. The wind swept me off my feet, I fell and I felt my arm pop.”

She added, “The girls were trying to pick me up by my arms, they couldn’t hear me scream. I was screaming at them to let me go - I was in such pain.”

However Grace’s colleagues couldn’t battle the wind and were blown against the wall of the old Smith’s toy store.

The two gardai came from Theatre Lane and carried Grace to a nearby vacant building where a large number of people had sought refuge.

Sgt Flanagan came back out and brought the other two women to the same building.

Dooradoyle woman and Protobaby lead singer Aoife McLoughlin said she was unable to stand because of the high winds.

“The force was too strong and there was debris flying around. Bricks, slates, metal and signs were flying past.”

“That guard risked his life out there with slates flying from the roofs. He was rescuing people. Henry Street gardai, were our heroes today, especially John Flanagan.”

Eithne Noone, a trainer with Bellisimo academy, told of how Sgt Flanagan helped her: “He gripped me tightly and at one stage both of us together couldn’t move forward - we were blown backwards - that man was absolutely the hero of the day.”

 

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