Floods stabilise but hardship goes on

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

The roaring Shannon down river of Castleconnell on New Years Day. The Castle Oaks Hotel is the first building visible on the left and the spire of All Saints Church can be seen in the background towards the right. The popular walk along the river, which now includes the Fairy Woods, has been off limits since the flooding   Picture courtesy of Shane Hartigan
SINCE the start of December Christina Butler has had to traipse through four fields to get to the outside world.

SINCE the start of December Christina Butler has had to traipse through four fields to get to the outside world.

Not even a tractor can get through her flooded driveway in Ballyvoiane, Mountshannon Road, Lisnagry. If there is a medical emergency the closest an ambulance can come is a mile away. Many neighbours are in the same boat. She and husband John are effectively marooned. They live in a beautiful four bedroom bungalow on a couple of acres but she says it is unsellable. So why, she asks, should she pay €400 property tax when the Government haven’t protected her area?

“It is successive governments that are at fault. There has been nothing done to the Shannon. Something has to be done to allow the water exit faster. It hasn’t been dredged.

“I got the letter around the time the floods started to tell me how much the property tax is going to be but how can people pay a property tax on a house that is worth nothing. They can’t expect people to pay when the house isn’t even resalable. It is in perfect condition but due to the location who is going to buy it?” asks Christina.

Ballyvolane, Mountshannon Road has been one of the worst hit parts of the county – much worse than 2009, she says.

However, Montpelier and Castleconnell, which were badly hit in 2009, have escaped largely unscathed in comparison to what happened then.

On Saturday, as 470 cubic metres per second was flowing down from Parteen Weir, families were walking their dogs along The Mall in Castleconnell. It was underwater in 2009 but a line of 1000kgs bags of sand and huge pumps were keeping it clear. George Lee, of Shannon Stores, said it is a “form of a miracle”. “Everybody is in good shape here. I think only one house’s conservatory might have got a bit wet in Castleconnell. The council, army, civil defence have come to the forefront - they saved Castleconnell,” said George.

A council spokesperson said part of their response involved the construction of defences at known at risk areas.

“Approximately 20,000 sandbags have been filled and distributed to date. Twenty high capacity pumps are currently operating on a 24-hour basis. There has been approximately 70 staff involved on a daily basis. Additionally, 57 civil defence personnel clocking approximately 550 hours have participated in the flood response efforts,” they said.

The situation in Clare is much worse. Minister Simon Coveney was told in no uncertain terms what they were going though in Springfield, Clonlara on Sunday. Sixteen households have been affected by flooding – four were uninhabited; two were isolated and uninhabited and 10 were continually battling this week.

To compound matters gardai are investigating if a dinghy used by defence forces to assist flood-stricken householders in Clonlara was interfered with by youths. They refused to speculate on reports the culprits had intended breaking into empty flood damaged houses. Good news is after the wettest December on record Met Eireann’s Gerald Fleming says we have seen the last of “abnormal rainfall” for the moment.