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Sunday 4 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Claire McDaid Claire McDaid said she heard an "almighty crash" last night as part of her exterior wall came down.
# Donegal
'The anxiety was unbelievable': Mica homeowners feared for their safety during Storm Franklin
Homeowners are still waiting for clarity in relation to the redress scheme that will help them to fix their crumbling homes.

DONEGAL HOMEOWNERS WHOSE houses have been damaged by mica have said they feared for their safety in recent days as a number of powerful storms hit Ireland. 

A Status Orange wind warning was in place for Donegal from 9pm yesterday until 7am today as Storm Franklin hit Ireland. The county was also hit by Storm Eunice last week and by Storm Dudley before that.

Michael Doherty, PRO for the Mica Action Group, said Storm Franklin was the worst of the three and many homeowners did not sleep last night because they were so worried about the damage the storm may do to their homes.

“It’s just been non-stop this morning, people are sharing things on Facebook, but I’m also hearing from a lot of people who prefer to stay private and some of what they’re telling me is even worse,” he said.

“There are people who have rain dripping into their kitchens, putting saucepans down on the floor, conservatories with water running down the inside of the windows, sitting rooms with acrow props – basically metal poles to hold up the ceiling – with water running down them,” he said.

“I’ve had grown men and women crying on the phone about it. I’m not a person who tends to panic, but last night I only got a couple of hours of sleep listening to the wind howling outside.”

He said a lot of homeowners lost masonry, particularly at the corners of their homes which are generally most vulnerable to damage. 

WhatsApp Image 2022-02-21 at 1.42.23 PM (1) Claire McDaid Image of Claire McDaid's home in Donegal. Claire McDaid

One of those homeowners was Claire McDaid, who told The Journal that the last number of weeks have been “horrendous”.

“It’s just been one storm after another, the wind yesterday was just terrible and it seemed to get worse and worse,” she said.

“The anxiety was just unbelievable. My house is bad, it’s really at a late stage of deterioration and we’re still living in it – it’s debatable whether we should be or not, but we are. 

Last night I was sleeping in with my 13-year-old and the dog. There was an almighty crash, the dog started barking and I was shining the torch out the window and could see all the rubble on the ground.
I thought the whole corner had gone, when I looked this morning it was moreso just the outside parts, but every part that comes off leaves more of the block exposed to the elements and the block underneath is very soft. The wind and rain then starts to dig away at it. 

WhatsApp Image 2022-02-21 at 1.45.18 PM Claire McDaid Damage to the exterior wall at Claire McDaid's home. Claire McDaid

She said there was a “collective anxiety” among impacted homeowners as the storm hit last night. 

“You could feel the upset and the anger as well, but that community spirit was there last night too,” she said.

McDaid is a musician and her band Don’t Fear the Natives is releasing a song tomorrow, inspired by homeowners’ struggles. 

dontfear thenatives / YouTube

“It’s called We Don’t Wanna Hear a Thousand Reasons because of that frustration we’ve all been feeling,” she said.

“We don’t want excuses we don’t want to hear the timeline has been pushed again and again – we need action and answers now.”

Emergency works

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) is due to submit a report to the Department of Housing on a model of assessing costs for the mica redress scheme.

A new package was announced by the government in November, including a sliding scale method that would be applied to each property. Campaigners have said an average homeowner will still have to find up to €65,000 to make up the shortfalls in this version of the scheme.

Michael Doherty said the government’s decision in relation to this sliding scale, following the assessment by the SCSI, will determine the course of the Mica Action campaign over the rest of this year.

There are also other issues of concern, he said, including a delay in the signing off of regulations to ensure homeowners can claim €5,000 for emergency works. Doherty said these kinds of delays are “extremely frustrating” for homeowners who he said are worried every day that parts of their homes will fall down around them.

“We asked for that emergency works funding and the minister agreed on 23 December, that €5,000 would be made available up front and then it would come out of the homeowners’ overall scheme costs,” he said.

“We’re still waiting on that regulation to be signed off. From the way things are going, the worst of the winter will be behind us before we get that, the situation is not being treated like an emergency.”

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