Town hit by massive mud slide and flood in freak storm

Council workers from Limerick and Tipperary work to clear the road at Lisowen near Doon, Co. Limerick. Pic: Press 22.

By David Raleigh

Residents have described the chilling moments when a river of mud and water swept through their town flooding homes and businesses.

Locals in rural Doon, nestled in the countryside along the Limerick - Tipperary border, were hit by a deluge of water and filth in a freak storm yesterday evening.

Bridges were swept away, homes were flooded, and graves at the local cemetery were swamped when torrential rain poured down unabated for an hour.

Today in Doon there was an eery calm as the sun shone and the temperature read 27.5 degrees despite the previous night's torrential downpour.

However, Limerick City and County Council are advising drivers of road closures in the area.

They say the L5031 (Doon to Gortageragh) and the L5034 (Doon to Glengar) roads are closed.

The council also say that local road L1128 (Cross of Bilboa to Rear Cross) is restricted to one way traffic for part of the route.

Caretaker of Doon old cemetery, Willie Ryan said it was "a disaster", and a local woman described the events as being like "Armageddon".

Elizabeth Power, 84, who resides at elderly community housing complex Glashan Talann, had to be evacuated when her bungalow was flooded.

Her nephew, Eamon Power said: "The water came in, and the carpets had to be thrown out. It was a horrible scene, a nightmare."

Mr Power described how the entire community and surrounding parishes put their shoulders to the wheel in a massive clean up, involving a plethora of local service agencies.

"There was water everywhere. People have been very good and they rallied around each other. The community spirit here is fantastic. I got a phone call at around 5pm just as I was eating my dinner after coming home from work, and I was here until midnight."

"Everyone really got stuck in and cleared the road. People had to come with diggers and clear it, there was piles of mud and water came in here, tonnes and tonnes of stuff came in. Everyone had shovels and brushes and the fire brigade were here as well and helped washed down the area."

Mr Power said it was a fantastic community effort.

"There was about a hundred people here helping. People came from outside the village too. Limerick County Council were here as well," Mr Power added.

The Doon Community Housing initiative lies at the foothills of Glengar Hill, which in turn lies underneath the giant Slieve Felim which overlooks Doon.

Millions of litres of rainwater and dirt slid down the mountain swallowing everything in its path.

Some roads in and around the town were still impassable today as emergency services and Limerick County Council and FAS workers continued the massive clean up.

Timmy Butler, Cappamore, said he arrived on Thursday night to clean relatives' graves and was gobsmacked at the scene that greeted him.

Mr Butler said: "I came over last night to clean up our own graves and I didn't know what was going on. It was all brown mud and dirty water. The council were cleaning out houses and a car park.

"I thought it was a pipe that was after bursting. I didn't known that it was the rain that came over the hills. It was a freak thing. Flash flooding."

Timmy, 60, added: "It never happened in my lifetime before. It was just a freak thing. It's the way the weather has gone lately. The climate has changed, you get more rain. And then, of course, you have more concrete nowadays, whereas years ago you had more fields, but now it's all concrete, so the rain has no place to go. The man holes can't handle it ."

Lizzie Hennessy, another resident of the elderly housing estate that suffered most of the flood damage, said she was "afraid" when she saw the water rising up to her front door.

"It was all flooded and we couldn't get in to our houses. Every house down along got flooded. Everyone is worried about it. It was a terrible scene, let me tell you that," she said.

"I got an awful fright when I came home, there was water all around my house. There are carpets been thrown out of the houses and there's more of them going to be thrown out. It was flooded everywhere. The water was running down the road and running in here. I had to get wellingtons to come up. It came to the step of my front door. I was lucky. Others were completely flooded out.

"It was coming in here as it was coming along a river," she added.

Graveyard caretaker, Willie Ryan added: "My daughter was held in her car with two children for two hours. She had to leave her car after her and got a lift from a neighbour."

Mr Ryan added: "It all came down off the hill, Glengar. There's three or four passages up to farmers' places and it all came down with the storm. There was very bad thunder and lighting all the way back up to Rearcross (Co Tipperary). There is a lot of damage up there too.

"The road to Glengar and Hollyford is still blocked. There was a lot of houses flooded, fierce damage done."

Mr Ryan said the cemetery had been looking it's very best just before the storm hit, after he had led a clean-up ahead of an annual mass for the people buried there.

About a thousand people are expected to attend the mass tonight.

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