IRELAND has been mopping up hundreds of millions of euros worth of damage following freak flash floods last weekend.Motorists were rescued from trapped cars and hundreds of houses were damaged after the highest recorded August rainfall since the 1986 deluge associated with Hurricane Charlie.Three inches of rain fell in a single day at Dublin Airport. In one 12-hour period Dublin Fire Brigade received an unprecedented 1,000 flood calls. A spokesman said crews spent most of last Saturday night rescuing people from houses and cars.A combination of monsoon-like rain and a high tide caused drains to block-up, flooding properties in the capital and parts of three adjoining counties.Dublin City Council said an emergency plan was rolled out and staff were drafted back from vacation to work as crews battled to keep the flood waters under control.One operator at the Met Eireann weather center said, "There was a river flowing down Collins Avenue East in Clontarf.""There was a girl in a car there who said the water was coming in, it was up to her knees and she was floating down the road in a BMW. The car was being swept down the street."One fella rang up and said the water was coming in his house door. It wasn't an immediate threat, but then he rang back an hour later and said it was up to the second step of the stairs and he had four kids there and it was getting up to the electrics and he needed to be rescued."On the capital's main motorway, the M50, a bus full of people heading to Dublin Airport got stuck in the floods. It had to be pulled by a tractor.Amazingly, there were no reports of injuries, although elsewhere several cattle drowned.Outside Dublin there was also flooding to houses in Co. Kildare and overflowing sewage in Celbridge caused by flooded pumps.In Laois in the midlands a river burst its banks, and roads were also awash with water in counties Wicklow and Meath.Racing was abandoned at the Curragh and the Tullamore Agricultural Show -- the biggest in the country -- was called off for the second successive year.Organizers of a massive international Scouting Jamboree in Punchestown had to move 4,000 kids from flooded campsites to more permanent facilities.The flooding in the east of the country came as residents of Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, and Mallow, Co. Cork were totting up the cost of damage after flooding earlier last week caused havoc in parts of Munster.Patrick O'Donovan, a county councilor in Newcastle West, said he had never seen anything like it after the River Arra burst its banks."At one stage there was about five feet of water, half of the town was under it. The place has been devastated, houses and businesses destroyed," he said."It was like something out of a horror film. I have never seen so much water floating down a street. The rain was like a monsoon here."The Irish Coast Guard said it airlifted one elderly woman to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick city for treatment for hypothermia. She was found along with her husband wading through a field of water around 100 yards from their home which was swamped by the flood.Sandbags were placed along Bridge Street in Mallow which was impassable to traffic after the Blackwater overflowed into the town.Environment Minister John Gormley of the Green Party came under attack for being away during the crisis. Opposition parties accused him of shirking responsibility for areas which had long been promised flood alleviation work, but where it was taking years to become reality.Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohue, who represents Dublin Central constituency, said Gormley was "missing in action, or rather missing in inaction."Labor TD (member of Parliament) Joanna Tuffy, who represents another affected area, Dublin Mid West, said the minister was "big into glamorous high-profile announcements" and liked to moralize about future climate shocks and planetary peril."But we need local government now, and he is the man in charge. The minister should come back from his holidays when something like this comes up," she said.
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