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Residents talk of brave rescue from floods

FEAR and horror engulfed a Dublin community when the River Dodder burst into homes.

Residents of Ballsbridge Avenue spoke today of frantic efforts to rescue children and elderly people from the rapidly rising flood waters.

Their nightmare began shortly after 6pm when the muddy waters of the Dodder began to swirl into the city neighbourhood.

The water level climbed to windowsill-level in single-storey cottages.

Across the street, residents of three-storey townhouses began to offer refuge to the cottage dwellers as the waters rose and rose.

Primary school teacher Amy Hall (28), standing in the deep slime outside her home, said: "It was awful. The waters kept rising. I could see a young father carrying his baby on his shoulder with the water up to his chest as he tried to cross the street in a strong current. If he slipped, they would have drowned."

An exterior stone staircase rising to the first-floor front door was a vantage point for her as she witnessed her community sink beneath the waters.

Amy said: "I was watching the water rise around my boyfriend's car until it was completely covered. The garage doors on our homes all buckled under the weight of the water.

"We were rescued by firemen who came in a raft after 10pm, when there must have been six foot of water. There was a dog as well as people in the raft and it looked like something from The Swiss Family Robinson," she said.

"The firemen were great in the big raft, they were just brilliant. There were a couple of elderly ladies who kept their sense of humour through the whole thing. Watching the river coming into the road was absolutely mad."

Several of the residents travelled by boat along the flooded streets to the Herbert Park Hotel where they were able to shower and spend the night.

Amy was unable to travel to work at St Andrew's National School in Malahide today as she tried to cope with the aftermath of the deluge.

Neighbour John McLaughlin (35) was close to tears as he spoke of the loss of his most precious possessions in the flood torrents.

He said: "I thought there might be a flood of a few inches, so I tried to raise things on to tables in the garage. But the garage ended up completely under water and I lost everything."

Deep furrows of mud made the road almost impassable to most vehicles.