The students, parents, and grandparents, and the emergency service staff from the local Coast Guard and fire brigade who worked alongside the staff of a Killybegs national school to stop it from flooding have been hailed as heroes by the school principal.
There were several areas of south Donegal hit by flooding after torrential rain last Wednesday evening and only for the community spirit of the staff, students and wider school community of Scoil Fhionntra in Killybegs, their school building may have been seriously damaged.
The school is situated at the base of a hill that rises sharply just beyond their playground and carpark, and after a day of heavy rain a small river that runs between the school and the hill burst its banks.
School Principal, Emma McGinty, said she was almost ready to leave the school at the end of the day when her attention was drawn to the fact the flood waters had come over their play area and were at the doors of the school’s gym and the levels were still rising.
“It was about 5pm and school was done for the day and I was almost on my way home when we checked around and we could see the water rising at the doors of the gym. It didn’t make it into the classrooms as we had great community support. The fire brigade pumped the water away on one side and the Coast Guard and Cliff Rescue were at the other side. It was a very large volume of water that fell all day and we were just caught in its path,” she explained.
She said the response to help them stop flooding to other parts of the school was a huge effort that involved many people.
“We had a lot of people filling and placing sandbags. There were children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, we had volunteers, electricians and other tradespeople, as well as the Coast Guard and the fire brigade, who were heroic also,” she added.
The group used the sandbags to create a channel to help divert the deluge away from the school buildings and onto the roadway.
Despite the work that lasted well into the evening the school managed to remain open on Thursday but the gym was closed to allow a dehumidifier to dry out the area affected by the flood water.
Principal Emma McGinty in the gym.