A Donegal village devastated by this week’s torrential flooding has turned to crowdfunding and Irish America to help occupants of 30 destroyed homes.
Stephen O'Donnell, chairman of the local GAA club in Burnfoot, has reached out to the Diaspora, especially those from Donegal, through IrishCentral hoping for assistance to re-house and buy clothes for residents.
He stated: “They are now homeless with very few possessions. The local council has said that they are out of these homes until next year and they will try their best to rehouse them, but there isn't a lot of houses available in the area for them to move into.
"Currently all the residents are staying with friends and neighbors until a home is found for them. Some of the residents have young families who are supposed to start school next week but have nothing!!.
"I...hope that our relations from across the pond will be able to donate some money to try to get these people back on their feet.”
Tuesday night saw four inches of rainfall in a matter of hours. Quiet country roads were transformed into roaring rivers, bridges collapsed, cars were washed away and hundreds had to evacuate their homes.
Video footage from James Sweeney shows extent of flooding in Burnfoot, Co Donegal last night pic.twitter.com/JWs4qETQLE— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 23, 2017
Speaking the day after the floods to RTÉ, one resident said, “There was no emergency services last night, no support. You’re just on your own.”
O’Donnell said in Burnfoot, which is on the Inishowen peninsula, there at least 100 people (out of a population of 450) now homeless.
While the water has now gone away many homes remain damp and completely uninhabitable.
Flash flooding near Donegal, Ireland yesterday afternoon, August 22. Major floods reported from the area. Video: Sinead Quigley pic.twitter.com/WDTLoRiAYo— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) August 23, 2017
“[They] now have six inches of sludge on the floor which is combination of water, mud, sewage and fuel from oil tanks,” O’Donnell told IrishCentral.
“The council [local government] have told residents at the moment they have the option of staying with a relative or a bed and breakfast for the next 5 days after which they hope to have them rehoused.
"Everything's gone, ruined, lost. I'm really gutted and very emotional" - Donegal residents react to devastating floods across northwest pic.twitter.com/wRVh0j7ju0— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 23, 2017
“The problem is that there is a lack of housing in our area so people will have to move to another area away from their home which leads to all sorts of other problems including transportation to school, etc.
“The council started assessing the damage at these homes this morning but expect that the repairs will take at least into the new year at the earliest.”
At the time of writing $3,665 had been raised on O’Donnell’s GoFundMe page only a few hours after going live.
The hope is that they’ll be able to raise $35,000 in total but most are also hoping for state aid. Only a few miles across the border in Northern Ireland households affected have already been promised $1,300 to help with the cleanup, but the Irish Government has been coy about its intentions. Government Chief Whip and Donegal legislator Joe McHugh said that it was “essential that an emergency aid package is put together” but declined to go into any details.
At a minimum six major bridges will need to be rebuilt in the county and urgent repairs are required on a number of roads.
We are getting more footage in from Donegal and its shocking what has happened. Thanks to Shane for this pic.twitter.com/bUZQ27fn4G— thatsfarming.com (@thatsfarming) August 24, 2017
Extra funding for flood defenses will likely be discussed. Burnfoot has historically been prone to flooding but funding for flood defenses was declined on the basis that it did not meet “a cost benefit analysis at the time.”
With many millions now due to be spent on the cleanup and repairs there’s a good chance the state may reconsider.