Limerick grandmother at 'wits end' as house floods five times in 72 hours

Margaret and Paul Ryan, today in their back yard at Mill Road, Corbally, Limerick.

An exhausted Limerick grandmother whose home flooded five times in 72 hours, said she was on the verge of a “nervous breakdown” unless something was done to alleviate flooding near her home.

The first of five 8-metre high tides in three days on the flooded River Shannon swept into Margaret and Paul Ryan’s bungalow, at Mill Road, Corbally, last Tuesday night.

The elderly couple said nothing has been done to alleviate flooding on the river running behind their home.

The first flood swamped their home 23 years ago, and they have spent tens of thousands on their own flood defences.

“I’m just at my wits end, I just can’t cope. I’m going to the doctor this morning to see will he give me something,” said Margaret, (68).

“I have a heart complaint and so has my husband,” she added.

The worried pair, which are battling two high tides a day, had not slept in three nights.

“It’s coming into us morning and at night. We are getting no help. I went out myself last night and bought a load of mops to mop up the place,” Margaret continued.

Her message to Limerick County Council, and those who manage the river and who are in charge of flood schemes, was clear, unlike the contaminated muddy water that poured into her modest abode: “They’ll have to do something, because I’m ready for a nervous breakdown.”

She claimed Limerick County Council promised to deliver dehumidifiers to their home on Wednesday but they were still waiting for them Thursday.

“They are promising us this and that but we have got nothing.”

Paul, 73, said he loved his riverside home, but acknowledged the floods have now taken their toll on him and his wife.

“Margaret is going to the doctor to see can she get anything to calm her. It came in five inches around the whole house,” he said.

He raised his yard by seven inches and built a double-wall between him and the river but it has made no difference.

“It’s still coming through. So, I don’t know what we can do, there’s nothing to stop it.

Paul said he worked for Limerick City Council for 35 years but claimed they have done little to help apart from delivering sandbags.

“We never got anything from anyone down here and I did 35 years with the Council, and do you think they would do me any favours - No.”

“The first year we got flooded I was sitting on the couch at 6am and it was up over my knees.”

A sixth high tide was due Thursday night and there was little they could do to stop it.

“We are getting very little asleep, we are up watching the tide the whole time,” said Paul.

Margaret added: “At our age, we are not able for this.“

“We are here 48 years and I’d move out of this house in the morning.”

The first flood destroyed their home Christmas morning “23 years ago”, but, they said, despite pumping thousands of euro into trying to keep the tide out, the floods “are getting higher and higher and higher”.

“Last night’s tide didn't go down for a long time, and I never closed my eyes. You can’t stop it, but your mind is telling you to go in and out to see can you do something to stop it - There is no end to it,” Margaret said.

Margaret’s grandchild Nathan (17), ferrying his grandaunt Geraldine on his back as they waded in to help Margaret and Paul last night
Margaret’s grandchild Nathan (17), ferrying his grandaunt Geraldine on his back as they waded in to help Margaret and Paul last night

Paul admitted they won't be able to afford to move to another home.

“We can't go away and buy a house at this time of our lives, all the money is gone.”

“Mostly everything is wrecked on us. It’s the third and fourth time everything has been wrecked,” he added.

Margaret held back tears recalling how a previous flood wiped out old photographs of her parents: “It all got swept away, that killed me.”

Their daughter Audrey said her “big worry now is the after-effects of the flood”.

“The last time it happened, both of them got very sick, and the doctors reckon it was from the flooding and the dampness in the house coming up through the floors and walls,” Audrey added.

Sweeping out the final wave of floodwater from her home, with the prospect of it returning within hours, Margaret added: “There's nothing to stop it — when it starts coming, it’s like a tsunami”.

Limerick City and County Council have been contacted for a response.

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