Householders and businesses in a Midlands town are today counting the costs following the sudden floods that engulfed properties over Wednesday night.
The Defence Forces were yesterday deployed to Mountmellick, Co Laois, to assist with flood relief works after heavy rain caused the banks of rivers to burst, prompting the county council to evacuate 35 families from their homes. Those evacuated were accommodated in hotels overnight.
Declan Furlong, of The Hare’s Corner restaurant in the MDA Business Campus, said he has never seen flooding like it in Mountmellick.
“Unfortunately we got completely flooded. I’m standing in the back function room and I’m able to see the water table got up to three feet. There has never been a situation where the Campus flooded at all. Not in my memory anyway, I’m from three miles out the road and I know the river like the back of my hand, walking up and down the bank as a child.
“While there has been some spot flooding in areas, and back in the 90s there were some flooding incidents, but nothing like this. This is completely unprecedented,” he told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1.
The local authority and the Department of Social Protection established a humanitarian aid centre in the town’s community centre, and emergency services from neighbouring counties Westmeath, Longford, and Offaly were brought in to assist.
A number of roads in the area remained impassible yesterday, and the 30 troops, deployed from the Defence Forces Training Centre at the Curragh Camp brought specialist equipment to assist in flood defence, mobility and clean up work.
Humanitarian aid has been promised for those affected. The Department of Social Protection sent community welfare officers to a hotel in the town to provide information, support and humanitarian assistance payments to people who have suffered due to the flooding.
Meanwhile, Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said a humanitarian flooding scheme will be administered by the Irish Red Cross to provide emergency assistance for small businesses, sports clubs and community organisations who were unable to secure flood insurance, but who were hit by the floods this week.
The scheme will pay contributions of up to €20,000 towards the cost of restoring businesses, clubs, and community organisations’ premises to their pre-flood condition.
President Michael D Higgins said his thoughts are with those affected: “As events like this are occurring with greater frequency we will be called upon to draw on our resource of solidarity ever more often, and I know the Irish people will recognise and support the importance of good planning and policies that may prevent or mitigate such occurrences.”
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