ST Mary’s PP Fr Donough O’Malley has paid tribute to the generosity and fortitude shown by his parishioners in the aftermath of the worst flooding ever seen on King’s Island.
Religious services had to be cancelled at St Mary’s Church on Saturday as nobody could get in or out with floodwaters rising to four feet in the surrounding area.
Fr O’Malley said he himself had got off lightly, with only one room in his house off Athlunkard Street damaged by water.
“The church was actually the only building on the compound that survived without getting hit. At the townhouse, where the community have meetings and functions, the water came in on the ground floor. In my house there was only one room hit as well as the garage. The two curates houses in the church grounds got hit but there is nothing major compared to a lot of our neighbours and in the sense that we have our health,” said Fr OMalley.
“I wasn’t able to get from the house to the church because there was four feet of water all around. So we had to cancel everything in the church on Saturday because nobody could get in or out.
“Two masses, one wedding and one baptism had to be postponed. The wedding was reorganised for the church in Westbury. That took place and everybody was happy, I understand. The baptism had to be cancelled for the simple reason that the family concerned, when they got up in the morning, came downstairs and saw all their clothes floating around in the front room. That wasn’t the best situation to be in, healthwise or any other wise,” he said.
On his rounds to parishioners this Monday, Fr O’Malley said the immediate priority was to support flood victims in every way possible and to get those who had been rendered homeless back in their houses.
“We are living in a disaster area. The main thing is so many people unfortunately have seen their life’s work destroyed in 20 minutes. Down in St Mary’s Park, Assumpta Park, Lee Estate and Abbey View, houses just behind where I am living, many of those houses are seriously damaged with the result that residents in the worst of them have had to be moved, some of them with their relatives and more of them in community centres and also in hotels. It is just terribly sad to see,” said Fr O’Malley.
“But on a more positive note, the people in St Mary’s Park, Assumpta Park, Lee Estate, Abbey View, and Verdant Crescent have shown extraordinary resources and a great spirit of community, companionship and generosity.
“Everybody is sharing everything they have and mucking in together. Also I’d like to pay tribute to the people over in St Munchin’s parish who have provided food non-stop for the last few days to all the workers and to the elderly people who have had to be moved from their houses.
It is Fr O’Malley’s wish that the authorities now put in a similar effort – and sooner rather than later.
“There is a great community spirit all around so really what needs to be done now is a decision has to be made for the people who are out of their houses as to how best their houses will be put in order again - that somebody provide the funding for it and get on with it.
“Also there are some areas where the houses shouldn’t be at all because it is too low-lying. There are plenty areas on higher ground even within the parish where new houses could be built within 12 months if the will was there. There’s no reason why they can’t. There are enough of brains out there if only they would get their act together.”