Uncertainty remains for Limerick families split after flooding

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh



Uncertainty remains for Limerick families split after flooding

Cian Healy , Niamh Counihan with baby Fiadh that were forced to leave their home in Bengal Tce because of floods. - Picture Michael Cowhey.

FAMILIES and residents affected by the “disastrous” Bengal Terrace flooding have been forced to couch surf and rent caravans after their three-week emergency accommodation expired on Saturday.

With no emergency facilities residents — some elderly and some with young children — have decided to remain in their seriously damaged homes.

In the early hours of July 15, a large water mains burst on the small residential road, causing severe flooding for 11 homes. Irish Water then stepped in and offered residents emergency accommodation in Killaloe. However, the Limerick Chronicle learned this arrangement expired at the weekend. Now, some have been told that their homes may not be ready until Christmas.

Parents Niamh Counihan and Cian Healy, who have a 10-week-old baby, have been forced to live in separate homes as a result. 

“She is only 10 weeks,” Ms Counihan said, “and I am not actually going near the house until I know it is going to be safe for her. I don’t know what was in that water, and I am not taking any risks.

“It is three weeks now, and we are still waiting for any answers, no work is set on the houses. I have done nothing but cry. It is so upsetting, there’s just constant stress. It is tough, especially when you are not together.”

Their neighbour Colm McCarthy had planned on hiring a caravan, but as of this Monday, was unable to secure one and has since stayed with his wife and two-year-old daughter in the upstairs of the home. He said that while their insurance is covering for “reasonable expenses”, the young family are unable to secure suitable accommodation, as housing supply is low.

Mr McCarthy said that he faced particular difficulty over the weekend, as it was his daughter’s second birthday.“She is okay. She is genuinely quite a good child, but she has kind of gone a bit upset over the last couple of days. She is asking to go home,” he said. 

He estimated that up to €1,500 worth of her toys, which were located downstairs, were destroyed by the flooding. He said that he reckons he has spent up to €3,000 on hotels, diesel, flood damage to a new van, and associated costs. 

Soldier Pte Anthony O’Donnell said that the flooding has forced him to take time off work. “There could be any time that the army would ring up and I would have to go away and leave the wife on her own. She’s not in the greatest state either, especially after what happened. We got the house done up and now, all of a sudden, we have to tear it all up again. This is disastrous.”

He said that he can’t use electrical appliances and they have been forced to order food every night. He said that he was living out of gear bags over the last three weeks and they “had enough of it. They are saying it could be Christmas before anything is ready.”

A spokesperson for Irish Water said that it “continues to engage directly with the affected families to offer practical support in so far as we can, the details of which remain confidential between Irish Water and the individuals concerned”.