One Donegal resident tells us about his traumatic experience of the floods that hit the northwest in August
“The five of us got trapped in our home with the water – it was so high you couldn’t get out, it was impossible. The force of the water was so strong we couldn’t move.” Aidan from Buncrana is talking about his personal experience of the Donegal Floods. “We were stuck in our house for three hours watching the water get higher and higher wondering, when it was going to stop. It was horrendous.”
Aidan has a conservatory with two glass doors and the water was three foot high around the glass. “We were just looking at the water getting higher and higher and it reached the door handles and we were just waiting for those two doors to explode. There were trees, oil tanks – everything was floating down and smacking against the house so all it took was one of those things to hit one of those glass doors – it would have busted the doors and then the house would have filled up with water,” explains Aidan.
Luckily for him, that didn’t happen. But those patio doors were just one of three entrances to the home. Aidan also has a front door and a back door – and these doors didn’t cave either, something Aidan attributes to the fact he replaced these doors with composite doors earlier in the year, which have a lock at the bottom, the middle and the top. “I think those locks helped keep it tighter, kept the doors from being pushed open, so that’s the difference, that’s why we reckon we didn’t get flooded in the house.”
Aidan was extremely lucky his house didn’t flood, as many of his neighbour’s houses did, but there was extensive damage outside his property. He had previously built a substantial wall at the back of the garden to try and keep flood water out “but the river just washed it away. The patio was washed up, all the fences were knocked out, all the plants were gone – at the front and back of the house, the flood water bursted through the garage and flooded it meaning the car was wrote off as it was full of flood water.”
Aidan’s first encounter with the Irish Red Cross was through Irish Red Cross volunteer Patrick O’Doherty. Patrick disbursed a €500 cash grant to Aidan and his family and he also informed Aidan about the discretionary grants which became available in November. Aidan applied for this discretionary grant and received the money just before Christmas.
Aidan and his family used the money they received from the Irish Red Cross to modify their home to make it more flood resistant
The funds were put towards buying reinforced aluminium flood gates for the doors – “so next time the floods happen, you can put them on the doorway and try and stop the water coming in because we’re going to get flooded again, it’s definitely going to happen,” he says.
Aidan is one of the lucky ones because the inside of his house didn’t get flooded. He talks about neighbours who couldn’t be in their homes for Christmas; “there’s a couple of families up here, they’re renting out private properties while they’re paying their mortgages and while they’re trying to deal with stuff – the impact of this is horrendous. If we had been flooded inside we could not have afforded something, no way, so that extra cash helped us prepare outside and also reinforce the house to make the house more flood resistant going forward,” says Aidan.
Aidan was impressed with how quickly the Red Cross paid out the discretionary grant; “it was brilliant, you filled in the form and the decision was made – there was a closing date – 30 November – and then we were told a couple of weeks later. I had to pay the builder for the work just before Christmas and the money was there for us to do that so it was really, really good.”
Aidan is keen to stress it wasn’t just financial support that was important; “Patrick was brilliant, he would call around a lot and he was very supportive and one of the things that they don’t really see is the trauma, I was quite traumatised by this and just having people to chat to about it and reassuring that things move on was great.”
If you want to help the Irish Red Cross continue it’s great working helping people like Aidan in Donegal, donate to our Christmas Appeal now at this link https://www.redcross.ie/Christmas/