herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Operation clean-up as soldiers sent to devastated Donegal

Defence Forces and council workers get clean after the clean-up
Defence Forces and council workers get clean after the clean-up

Soldiers have been sent into the flood devastated north-west to help clean up. Communities had been told that 35 members of the Irish Defence Forces would be deployed at 9am yesterday.

However, some affected areas didn't see the Army arrive until early afternoon.

A spokesman from the Defence Forces said the delay was due to the local council deciding on which areas needed the most attention.

"The county council was assessing what areas to assign the Defence Forces personnel to, so they asked if they could push back their timing until noon," he said.

"They were given their briefing in Letterkenny and were then deployed around different locations.

Ruined

"Their primary role is providing manpower and working in a mobility role."

At about 1pm, members of the 28th Infantry Battalion finally arrived at Pairc an Grianan, Burnfoot, Co Donegal.

They helped families remove ruined furniture and possessions from flood damaged homes and assisted council workers in their duties.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar later said he did not know the reason for the delay.

"I can't say exactly why that was, but I'm not sure how relevant it is, whether the Defence Forces arrived at 9am or 1pm," he said.

"The important thing is that they did arrive and were tasked to be here.

"Additional support will also be provided from more Army personnel if needed."

The Red Cross was also sent to administer a flood relief scheme for small businesses.

More than 100 people had to be rescued from cars and houses due to sudden flash flooding in Donegal, Tyrone and Derry on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Government has opened an emergency fund for assistance and clean-up.

The cost of the damage is expected to run to tens of millions of euro. People needing financial help for food and everyday essentials, cleaning, structural work and white goods were urged to apply at welfare offices.

Defence Forces personnel have been operating in three separate locations, including Buncrana, Burnfoot and Carndonagh.

In Buncrana and Burnfoot personnel are providing mobility and manpower assets to local authorities.

In Carndonagh, Defence Forces personnel are bolstering water defences.

The Air Corps also flew an air reconnaissance mission to inspect the area of operations after a request from the council.

Catastrophic

Gerard and Lisa Gallagher, of Pairc an Grianan in Burnfoot, were one of 17 families left without a home after Tuesday's catastrophic flooding.

They were enjoying a quiet evening watching television when the river beside them began to overflow.

"One minute, we were watching TV; the next, water was coming in through the doors," said Mr Gallagher. "I couldn't believe it.

"We have flood gates that are about 4ft high but they were no good at all. When the water came in it reached as far as my waist".

As the rain continued to pour, the estate's sewer system overflowed, resulting in raw sewage flowing into their home.

"The smell was absolutely atrocious," said Mr Gallagher.

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