Clean up underway after freak flash flood in Gweedore

A mammoth clean-up operation got under way in the Gaeltacht community of Gweedore on Wednesday, following a freak flash flood the afternoon before that swept away parts of roads and bridges, and caused damage throughout the parish.

"It is a miracle that there was no loss of life," said Dinny McGinley, T.D. He called for an immediate audit to assess the damage to the area.

A heavy rain began to fall in Gweedore at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, but it later turned into torrential rain, thunder and lightning that continued until late afternoon.

A mother and daughter were rescued by boat from the second story of the woman's florist business and other area residents were trapped in their homes. Residents of an area nursing home were moved to another part of the residence and the local Now Doc clinic had to be closed, its services moved to another location.

At one point an estimated seven fire brigades, some crews borrowed from neighbouring villages, were said to be battling the rising waters that threatened the area.

The freak rains were localised, and residents only a couple of miles away in either direction from Bunbeg and Derrybeg enjoyed a largely dry midsummer evening.

County council roads crews were in the area on Wednesday morning, working on a portion of badly damaged main road near Stranacorcra. A senior council engineer said on Wednesday said that staff was assessing and prioritising the work that needed to be done in the area. "No doubt this is going to cause financial problems as well as anything else," engineer James Boyle told Highland Radio.

People in the parish likened the flash flooding to the 'Tuile Mr' tragedy, when five people drowned on the grounds of the Old Chapel in Derrybeg when the Coitin river burst its banks in August 1880. In fact Derrybeg florist Evelyn Doherty and her 2-year-old daughter, Jean, were rescued from the top floor of Evelyn's flower shop, just metres from the old chapel, which now serves as the local public library.


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