Hoax 999 calls and stolen sandbags reported in flood-hit Limerick

By David Raleigh

An emergency services source in Limerick has today criticised an apparent hoax 999 alert for wasting their resources.

Gardaí are investigating after the call diverted firemen and gardaí away from responding to flood hit communities.

It is the latest in a number of hoax alerts in the city.

A source in the emergency services said they believe the caller is watching the emergency response to their call "for their own sick pleasure".

Last night, Limerick City & County Fire Service received an alert at 11.30pm, that a person was reported to have entered the water behind Henry Street garda station.

Three swift-water rescue technicians attached to the fire service launched their rescue boat 'Fireswift', while two other fire trucks searched the quays," a source said.

Nothing was found.

"The call is believed to have been a hoax call - the caller removed (their) SIM card from the phone," a source in the emergency services claimed.

"Crews are extremely busy at flooding incidents in Rosbrien and Richmond Park and will continue their work in these areas throughout the night," they added.

Homeowners in Limerick City are reported to have taken sandbags from outside their neighbours homes last night in a desperate attempt to protect their own houses as they were overwhelmed by floodwaters.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, described how she put sandbags outside her house in Richmond Park, Corbally, however when she returned 20-minutes later the sandbags had been rifled.

"Our sandbags were stolen," the woman claimed.

"There is that level of panic among people that they are stealing sandbags," she added.

The Canal Bank and the Corbally wetlands breeched their banks flowing into St Mary's secondary school and surrounding homes.

Shortly before 10pm up to eight houses and a school in the Corbally area were flooded.

Cars were left "submerged", local Labour councillor Frankie Daly said.

Earlier the ESB had let off extra volumes of water upstream from the Parteen Weir after levels in Lough Derg reached capacity.

One couple arrived home from holiday to find their possessions floating around their house in Richmond Park.

"It's horrible. It came in so fast," said a family member.

Cllr Daly, who lives near the flood hit area, was stunned when he arrived on scene last night to help lay sandbags.

"It's shocking," he said.

"The water is flowing through Ard Scoil Mhuire school, through houses, and onto the Corbally Road," he explained.

Cllr Daly said that the authorities in charge of operating the lock gates on the Canal could not fully open them and were "considering blowing a hole in them" to allow the water escape and divert away from the Corbally area.

"There was no communication with residents here about flooding. It was all about Caslteconnell and Mountpeillier in the media," he claimed.

"There is one house where the water is half way up the door. I've seen cars floating around here."

"It's bleak," he added.

Earlier on Saturday the River Blackwater breached its banks flooding several homes near Springfield in Clonlara, South East Clare.

Limerick and Clare is on high alert for further flooding from now through until next week, as the River Shannon is expected to reach its peak on Monday and Tuesday.

KEYWORDS: flooding, 999


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