After the deluge came the sunshine. And then the clean-up.
Dazed residents in the west Donegal Gaeltacht of Gweedore yesterday stepped out from the nightmare into scenes of |devastation as they began to count the cost of a freak storm which struck on Tuesday afternoon.
Concentrating its fury on the adjoining villages of Bunbeg and Derrybeg, the storm raged for several hours causing two rivers to burst their banks, flooding houses, shops and factories, ripping up roads and breaking bridges. Lightning which lasted up to two hours damaged power lines and caused a major breakdown of mobile phone signals as families desperately tried to make contact with each other.
Up to 20 houses remained cut off from the world after three access bridges were carried away with the storm.
“We’re marooned here at the moment and cannot get in or out with our cars. We’re cut off now completely, it’s like living on an island,” said Charlie Doherty (34) who described the flooding as “a small tsunami”.
Florist Eibhlin Doherty, who jumped from a second floor window with her two-year-old daughter Jean into a lifeboat on Tuesday evening, could still see the water mark close to the roofline of her home yesterday.
“Lamps, cameras and everything were just swimming around in the rising waters. There is a terrible smell but everyone is helping me clean up. The weight of the waters pushed the windows through,” she said.
Efforts were under way last night by public representatives to secure emergency funding to respond to the damage caused by the freak weather. It is feared the cost of repairs could run into millions of euro.
Among the worst hit buildings was the old chapel in Derrybeg, which was surrounded by six metres of water when the storm was at its height.