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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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'More help is needed on the ground': Soldiers to be sent in to aid Donegal flood relief efforts

The government has offered financial assistance to those affected by flooding in their homes.

Cars submerged in water as the River Dennet in Derry burst its banks.
Cars submerged in water as the River Dennet in Derry burst its banks.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated: 10pm

A PLATOON OF 30 soldiers will be sent to Inishowen, Co Donegal tomorrow, to assist in the clean-up operation in the wake of heavy flooding.

The government has agreed to send in members of the Defence Forces, and more will be sent in if needed.

“Many assessments of damage still need to be done. However it was also clear more help is needed on the ground,” Minister Joe McHugh said.

Earlier, the Department of Social Protection said it would offer financial help to families and individuals affected by the torrential rain which caused significant flooding and damage to hundreds of homes across the country.

A number of clean-up operations have also commenced following the heavy rain.

A month’s worth of rain fell in the space of a few hours on Tuesday into Wednesday morning, resulting in severe conditions in Donegal and Derry as roads were closed and flights were cancelled. Furthermore, a fresh rainfall warning has been issued for Donegal for this evening.

In a video address, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined the measures taken by his government in response to the crisis.

He said that a number of agencies would meet tomorrow morning to “coordinate a national response to this very serious problem”.

Source: MerrionStreetNews/YouTube

Transport Minister Shane Ross arrived in Donegal this morning and conducted meetings with local representatives. They are now drawing up relief plans to support affected areas. The north of Donegal has been hit the hardest.

Financial aid

Many families who have lost their homes are currently being put up in hotels across the region. Those who have lost their homes will also be entitled to the Exceptional Needs Payment from the Department of Social Protection to cover the cost of fixing their properties.

The Department of Social Protection has begun rolling out its Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, which is available to assist people whose homes are damaged by flooding and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair.

Financial support under the scheme will be initially targeted at the immediate needs of those who have been directly impacted by the flooding – such as clothing and food – with further support available as the clean-up operations are rolled out.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said that “when events like this occur, the State needs to help in any and every way we can”.

“The stresses families are under is not to be underestimated and the department will do everything we can do to relieve that stress and support for the people of Donegal,” Doherty said.

People and families in need of assistance are being advised to visit their local Intreo Centre for support.

Across the north

Areas of Derry and Sligo have also been hit hard by the weather.

Junior Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said that money will not be an issue when it comes to helping those affected by the deluge.

He told Morning Ireland: “The devastation that I could see on people’s faces is all too familiar to me. Money should and will not be an object in helping these people. I’m staying in Donegal and am meeting with representatives so we can do all we can to help these people.”

Brendan O’Donnell, who is a senior engineer with Donegal County Council, said that teams across north Donegal are still assessing the damage.

“We’re still getting our heads around the scale of the damage. We’re getting numerous reports around Donegal about damage to secondary routes or bridge collapses. We’re still counting the cost and trying to get an inventory so we can assess the scale of the damage,” he said, also speaking on Morning Ireland.

Over 600 homes were left without power in north Donegal yesterday – but all are now back online. The severe weather conditions also left more than 600 homes in Northern Ireland temporarily without power.

Numerous videos were published on social media showing extensive flooding in several areas across the north-west of the island.

https://twitter.com/barrabest/status/900093192447696897

https://twitter.com/BarryWhyte85/status/900265739206238209

North of Ireland storms

Bernard McGuinness, who is a Fine Gael councillor for Inishowen, said: “I have never seen anything like it in all my life. The rain was relentless and torrential.

Roads which never flood did this time. It was a weather event not seen here in living memory with 70mm of rain in just a few hours.

“Damage in many areas is severe. I want to pay tribute to local people, emergency services and council staff who worked through the night.”

Fianna Fáil spokesman for flood relief Eugene Murphy said the government has to come up with a new approach to deal with extreme weather conditions.

He said that over the last three years, large parts of the country have been hit by severe flooding resulting in road closures and power outages.

Deputy Murphy said:

“While the government allocated money for flood defence schemes, we need to see these projects progressed as a matter of urgency.  Delays cannot be tolerated – as it is becoming evident that flooding is no longer confined to the winter months.

The scenes of utter devastation witnessed on Tuesday night cannot be repeated.  Roads and bridges have been swept away rendering some areas inaccessible, there were reports of people unable to make it home, while others were stranded in isolated areas.

“Unless action is taken, we will continue to see collapsed roads, submerged fields and abandoned homes as a result of these extreme, and ever-increasing, weather events.”

- With reporting from Hayley Halpin, Céimin Burke and Sean Murray

READ: Gardaí use batons and pepper spray to break up massive wedding brawl in Westmeath >

READ: Torso of journalist was tied to metal object to weigh it down, police say >

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