Flooding on Friday morning at Drumlonagher, Donegal town
Last Friday morning as I drove to work in Donegal town, like everyone else I was aware that a lot of rain had fallen and that Donegal town in particular had been hit very badly.
Like everyone else I was well aware of the potential danger Storm Lorenzo could pose in terms of wind damage, but to be honest at no stage did I realise that so much rain would fall so quickly. Am I alone in that, were there warnings about the levels of rain that could/would fall? If there were I confess here and now that I missed them, but I'm not so sure they were flagged up in any major way, perhaps that's not possible. Maybe even with all the technology available, some things can't be predicted, particularly if it is so localised.
Arriving in Donegal town having driven through a heavy flood close to town, I took a quick scoot around the town. In particular I had a look at the New Row and, prompted by an earlier phone call from photographer Siobhan McGowan, who was stranded in her mum's house at that stage, unable to exit the house due to flooding, went out the town to Drumlonagher. I was surprised at the scene, I counted four fire tenders and many fire fighters here and there working their socks off. On my way back to the office I passed more fire fighters.
Later, back in the office, what I began to hear from reporters and callers was that flooding in all the "usual" places had happened, but there was evidence too of rivers, streams or as we would call them 'shucks' also breaking out and causing havoc elsewhere. Everyone had the same story - massive amounts of rain falling in a very, very short space of time, less than an hour some said, between 4 and 5am was the time I head most frequently.
I recall one council official saying on radio they had to deal with some very "new" flooding flash points in the general area of Donegal town.
As the day progressed our reporting team and photographers all contributed to an emerging story of spectacular levels of rain falling in and around Donegal town in particular in a very short space of time from roughly 4am on Friday. What was also emerging was how many other parts of the county, Kilcar, Carrick, east Donegal had also been hit, but it remained that the biggest issues were in Donegal town.
From our office close to the quay we watched as the Eske spewed millions of dark brown gallons of water seaward, like so many others we were acutely aware of high tide at 10.30am but as the minutes ticked by and the cars moved back and away from the water's edge, it became clear that the swell wouldn't top out and flood the car park or nearby streets.
All day people sent us photographs and videos. What was clear was how quickly the rain fell and how heavily, but as I write on Sunday morning, what's on my mind now is the annoyance many people in Donegal town and elsewhere must feel as they deal with the dreadful mess which this flooding has caused. It's a few days after the event and it's probably now more than ever that those affected need some answers and some hope that next time, they can be protected from flooding.
From personal experience (on a very minor scale) I can tell you the one thing that seems to take forever to leave a flooded house or ground floor is the dank, heavy smell. No matter how well you tidy up, in your mind if not your eye, you still see the water mark on a wall, you look at a door than doesn't quite close properly anymore and know why it squeaks or catches a bit and needs another rub of a plane.
But, more to the point, how do all those people in Donegal town and elsewhere stand in terms of insurance cover? I'm told that some people are struggling to get cover, because they have been hit by flooding before, but on this oddly calm, sunny Sunday morning, I imagine the thing most of those affected by the flooding want to know now is what can be done to protect their homes for the inevitable next time...
All those who got involved in one way or another in assisting those hit by floods deserve our thanks and praise, yet again the emergency services are rightly being lauded for their great work - well done all.
Meanwhile, many politicians have been on the ground locally following the flooding, offering their help and opinions, but I thought this line from Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher was among the most informative I have seen so far: "What is immediately required for the Donegal town is for the Government to sanction a full technical assessment of the town and environs, in order that a comprehensive strategy can be put in place.
"Presently the initial flooding survey compiled for Donegal town, is part of a list of over 300 similar projects nationwide, and unless serious pressure applied, Donegal Town will languish without any progress being made."
*Here's some contact info from the County Council for those impacted directly:
Donegal County Council wishes to advise that households affected by flooding in the South Donegal area as a result of #StormLorenza can apply for an Urgent Needs Payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
An Urgent Needs Payment may be paid to people in emergency situations, for example, in the case of a fire, flood or other disaster, to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing. For further information visit http://www.welfare.ie/en/ Pages/Urgent-Needs-Payments. aspx