Cian Healy, Niamh Counihan with their baby Fiadh, who were forced to leave their home in Bengal Terrace Picture: Michael Cowhey
A COUPLE and their first-born eight-week-old baby girl will have no home to go to in Limerick this Monday night, after leaving their flooded home on Bengal Terrace at the weekend.
Niamh Counihan, partner Cian Healy and little Fiadh, who turned eight weeks old on Sunday, were among up to a dozen residents affected by flooding in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Residents reported being pushed back by the force of the water, which was as high as three feet, following a burst water mains pipe.
The young couple now fear they will be forced to “couch-surf” in homes of relatives, as they say “everything in the house has to be torn up or thrown out” and replaced.
The couple raced down the stairs in their bare feet and pyjamas after 2am on Saturday to find water rising up the stairs.
“We can’t return now as God knows what we were walking on and what has been contaminated. I packed up as much as I could, but there’s no way I’m bringing my daughter back into that house as it is,” Ms Counihan told the Limerick Leader.
The local authority and Novas have offered financial support to residents in the short-term, but she added: “We don’t have the money to stay in hotels ourselves for the rest of the week or the next few weeks, so I don’t know what we are going to do.”
A number of residents were turned away by one hotel in Limerick on Saturday night for not having a credit card to process their payments, which they described as “diabolical.”
Several families then found alternative lodgings at the Travelodge, with officials with Limerick City and County Council paying for those affected.
A contractor was brought on site yesterday by Irish Water to spray the properties with disinfectant, and dehumidifiers were also provided in an attempt to dry out the homes.
However, Ms Counihan and others with young children said they are not prepared to put the health of their young offspring at risk due to the possibility that sewage water may have flowed through their homes and contaminated belongings.
Resident Colm McCarthy, who resides at the property with his wife and two-year-old daughter, are also staying at the Travelodge but fear they will be forced to sleep in their car from Monday on.
At the time of going to print last night, they had received no communication regarding their accommodation from Monday evening on, and say it could take weeks before people’s homes “are back to normal.”
In a statement issued yesterday, a spokesperson for Irish Water said that as a result of investigations carried out they “did not find any evidence of sewage contamination in any of the affected properties.”
Several units of Limerick Fire Brigade spent hours assisting residents in the early hours of this Saturday morning, after the pipe burst at approximately 2.30am.
They added that Irish Water will continue to monitor the situation to ensure there is no threat to public health. “Irish Water and Limerick City and County Council apologise sincerely to all customers impacted by this incident particularly those whose homes were directly affected.”
Upon arriving at the scene, Sinn Fein deputy Maurice Quinlivan said the lack of a response from Irish Water to “wrecked” homes was “shocking”. Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, who also met with residents, said the damage caused to people’s home was “devastating” and that several were “destroyed.”
Anyone with queries or concerns should contact the Irish Water on 1850 278 278.