David Power hasn’t had a decent sleep for weeks, according to Councillor Mary Butler (FF).
“David and his wife Frances – they’re exhausted. They’re still out of the house – five days later, they’re still staying with family, and the stress they’ve been under has been absolutely unbelievable; David has been up two or three times a night for the past month checking that the house was dry. And it’s taken its toll.”
Sixteen years ago, David and Frances had a pumping system installed in the basement of their home called The Manse, a house situated alongside the bridge in Portlaw, adjacent to the village’s old Presbyterian Church.
The house, which is on low lying land, has been traditionally prone to flooding throughout its history, but never before in the levels witnessed by the Powers and locals on Tuesday night last when the Clodagh bubbled and the gales howled.
“We had two pumps running on the Monday night, pumping out water,” said Cllr Butler, who is Fianna Fáil’s general election candidate for Waterford.
“By Tuesday night at 9pm, it was ankle deep and in the space of an hour and a half, it was waist high. As I said on WLR, it was Armageddon. You had the river on the right hand side which burst its banks, you had the water coming in over the wall from the adjoining Hickey’s Field but the main problem was the field across the road, known locally as the Doctor’s Well, which has been flooding on a regular basis for quite some time.”
Cllr Murphy added: “Last year, we applied through the County Council for funding to bank up the Powers’ garden but the OPW turned us down, and the Council itself didn’t have the funding, so I was pretty distressed the other night, thinking if we’d got that funding, would we have saved the family this grief, but in truth, given the level of water that was gushing through the Doctor’s Well wall, nothing would have saved The Manse. Nothing. All the elements came together.”
The house was cleared of water the following day, much to the relief of David and Frances. “They are so grateful to everyone who came to their aid; words can’t describe the way the people of Portlaw responded to their plight, and it wasn’t reserved to relatives or friends people. The new wave of residents who have made Portlaw their home in the past few years responded to a request I put up on my Facebook page and it was incredible to see ‘Old Portlaw’ and ‘New Portlaw’, and the amount of teenagers who did their bit too; in the midst of an emergency like this, it was great to see the community, along with John Murphy and his machinery, come together the way they did. But it was an appalling night that won’t be soon forgotten.”
Fellow Portlaw native and Minister of State Paudie Coffey praised all who weighed in to assist in salvage operations throughout Waterford.
“The wettest December on record has led to unprecedented levels of water in areas along the Rivers Suir; Clodiagh and Blackwater. The response from voluntary organisations has been immense and they have been of huge assistance to people in protecting their homes and trying to mitigate the impacts of the flood waters.”
Minister Coffey added: ““The Government has introduced a scheme of assistance for people whose homes have been flooded that is being administered by the Department of Social Protection. A scheme for businesses effected is being administered by the Irish Red Cross; both of these schemes will be of benefit to those people most acutely effected by the recent severe weather.”
Citing the successes of the flood schemes in recent years in Waterford city, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir (with locals acknowledging that the flood walls still did their job despite last week’s flood), Minister Coffey stated that Fine Gael hopes to spend €430 million in flood defence measures over the next six years.
“I am aware of the red tape that exists that landowners have to experience when trying to remediate their lands on river banks and I have instructed officials in my Department to review river bank management from a planning perspective with the introduction of a new protocol; so that landowners can repair their damaged lands in a controlled manner but without having to go through so much red tape.”