'It's soul destroying,' says flood victim

PADDY O'Leary and his wife Gertie tried to be brave as objects bobbed about in nearly two feet of water in their ruined home on Botanic Avenue, Drumcondra. They have lived there for the past 35 years.

"It came in about 12 o'clock last night," said Paddy. "It started to rise very fast and the sandbags couldn't keep it out. But it could have been worse."

Two years ago when the street was last flooded, the O'Learys escaped thanks to prompt action and the

sandbags.

"I've two greyhounds out the back and I was hoping to go to the coursing in Balbriggan tomorrow where I felt I could do well. But I can't get out with the flooding and I don't think I want to, now," said Paddy, an electrical contractor.

Close to 200 people were evacuated from their homes in Drumcondra and accommodated in the O'Brien

Institute, Marino and at Balsaskin in Swords. Dublin City Council housing welfare staff work at both locations.

All available city council personnel and resources were mobilised to deal with the flooding which also hit

Millmount and Richmond Road.

Arrangements were made to deliver food to people who could not leave their homes. "I was literally terrified last night that the floods would come in," said Margaret McGreevy of Drumcondra yesterday as she recovered from a sleepless night. "It was the roaring noise that was the worst."

Only army trucks which ferried elderly people from their swamped, ruined homes managed to navigate Botanic Avenue, where Mrs McGreevy was born 72 years ago.

Unlike many of her neighbours, the home she shares with her husband Paddy was spared.

The public park fronting McGreevys was a raging sea. The river Tolka had broken its banks during the night, sending torrents of water which flooded the roadway to a depth of several feet. Paddy surmised: "Only for the leaves blocked some of it at the railings, a tidal wave would have hit us."

He added: "The Civil Defence were terrific. They were up and down the street all night checking to see that we were all right."

Further down the street towards the junction with the main Drumcondra Road passable only with care a number of cars stood forlornly in metre-high floods.

Michael O'Connor said the floods were more severe than in 1995 when he came home from the Lebanon, where he had taken bands out to entertain the troops, to find the neighbourhood awash.

"We've had no power since 10 o'clock last night," he said. "Look," he said, pointing to a geyser in the middle of the road. "The sewer lid has come off and there is raw sewage flowing down the road."

In Co Meath, Betty Byrnes was counting the cost of the second flood in two years at her home in Beechdale, Dunboyne.

"It's absolutely soul destroying," she declared, exasperated it should happen again. "Nothing has been done."

She blames the neglect on Meath Co Council, the Government, the Department of the Environment.

"There are 26 families here who are homeless, with nowhere to go.We have no services; nobody has come to ask us. We're standing out on the road in four feet of water."

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