herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Nurse's flood death sparks safety campaign

COUNCIL officials have unveiled a new information campaign warning the owners of basement flats about the risks of flooding.

It comes after Filipina nurse Cecilia De Jesus drowned in last October's floods when water engulfed her basement home.

The leaflet produced by the council warns: "If you own or live in a basement property you may be at risk of flooding. (It) can occur at any time and not just during wet weather."

It can be caused by "extremely heavy rainfall" over a short period of time or by unexpected blockages, it says.

Large volumes of grease and other unsuitable material being discharged down the drains can lead to back-ups.

It is estimated that there are some 18,000 basement flats in the city.

However, the council does not yet propose to make it compulsory to install water alarms in the units.

Fine Gael councillor Bill Tormey had urged officials to prioritise the "potentially lethal situation" of residents being trapped in basement accommodation.

Ms De Jesus, who worked at Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross, desperately screamed for help for 10 minutes as water poured into her flat on Parnell Road in Harold's Cross on the night of October 24.

The mother-of-one in her 50s had only recently moved into the building ahead of her husband's planned arrival from the Philippines in December.

She died just hours after off-duty Garda Ciaran Jones was swept away while attempting to divert traffic away from a dangerous bridge in Co Wicklow.

Floodwaters engulfed the row of terraced Georgian houses at around 11pm on October 24, after the River Poddle burst its banks.

Witnesses described how the torrent quickly made its way down an incline from Harold's Cross before hitting Parnell Road.

A woman living above Ms De Jesus was woken by the sound of screaming.

"'Help me, help me, help me,' for maybe 10 minutes she was crying," the woman recalled.

A group of Pakistani men living in the top floor and firemen made desperate attempts to get into the basement, but to no avail.

Rescuers were only able to retrieve her remains the following day when the floodwaters were pumped out of the flat.

comurphy@herald.ie

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