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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

Over 4 months after the floods first hit, and this family can still only access their home by boat

The road to Caroline Collins’ home is still under 4ft of water.

Image: Paschal Fitzmaurice

A CO ROSCOMMON family are still unable to access their home over four months after the floods began, due to the road up to it being under 4ft of water

Caroline Collins has lived for years with her three daughters (aged 18, 16 and 11) in Castleplunkett Co Roscommon, a small village located close to Castlerea and near the River Shannon.

She had to leave her home in late-December, after heavy rains brought about by a succession of storms resulted in the entire area being flooded.

Caroline has not been able to return to live in her home since, and has been staying with nearby family.

The road to her home is still under at least 4ft of water, due to serious drainage issues in the area.

“We’ve been out of our house since the end of December,” Caroline told TheJournal.ie.

“It was really unprecedented, this flood. We never imagined that it would actually rise as high as 6ft at one stage.”

It has never happened in history before. It’s totally unprecedented.

Caroline has been only been able to access her home via boat, with help from the Roscommon Civil Defence, to collect her belongings.

20160405_184053 (1) Caroline and her daughter getting to her home by boat Source: Paschal Fitzmaurice

She hasn’t been back there in 5 weeks.

While the water level is decreasing slowly, it’s likely that she won’t be able to move back into her home until at least June.

“It’s been very tough, we’re all finding it very stressful,” said Caroline.

The future

Assuming the water level goes down and Caroline and her family can return to their home (which has managed to avoid being damaged), they will immediately need to start working on how they can prevent the same problem from happening again.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice, who has been assisting the family, told TheJournal.ie that there wasn’t much that the council could do to get rid of the water.

“There’s really not much the council can do,” Fitzmaurice said.

“We looked at drilling a water well to see if that would make a difference, but it’s not looking good.

That’s the stage where we’re at now – it’s a very serious issue.

Castleplunkett is located in what’s known as a Turlough – a sort of seasonal lake.

Turloughs are areas of limestone, typically found to the west of the Shannon. In winter generally they flood heavily, becoming lakes, only to drain again at another time.

castleplunkett Castleplunket is situated in an area to the west of the River Shannon that is prone to flooding Source: Google Mpas

These areas flood significantly in heavy rain – and this is what happened in Castleplunket.

Fitzmaurice said that the pressure built up below the road due to the heavy rains.

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That pressure has yet to relieve, and because of this the water levels are only declining very slowly.

“There’s not much the council can actually do,” he said.

Until the water levels decline, Fitzmaurice says that they won’t be able to examine the cause of the problem.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, John Mockler, Roscommon Municipal District Coordinator for Roscommon County Council, confirmed what Fitzmaurice had said.

“There are a few possible scenarios as to why the water in the Turlough (Seasonal Lake) is not getting away,” said Mockler,

There are several sink holes located within the lake and until such time as the water recedes it will not be possible to complete an accurate conceptual model as to what caused the lake to rise so high.
This area has many karst (limestone) features in the area and is vulnerable to groundwater flow. Groundwater flow in limestone is harder to manipulate as opposed to surface water flow in rivers and streams.

Mockler said that the sheer volume of the water is stopping the council from doing any work on fixing the problem. Until the water level goes down, there is nothing that can be done.

“The sheer volume of water in the lake is prohibiting Roscommon County Council from doing effective works on the roads in this area,” he said.

Roscommon County Council was allocated €4.5 million to help fix the roads that were damaged in the flooding. It is unclear how much of that money will go to fixing the problems at Castleplunket.

Until the water goes down, Mockler said there is no way to determine what needs to be done to stop the build up happening again.

For Caroline, the long wait has been tough.

I’ll be moving [home] the minute I can have access into it,” she said.

But then the work will have to start to stop it from happening again.

Read: Taxpayers aren’t willing to pay higher insurance premiums to help flood victims, so what’s the solution?

Read: Minister hits out at claim flood relief budget has been ‘slashed’

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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