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Springfield resident Geraldine Quinlivan looks out at her house which is cut off due to flooding, as she arrives home from work in a civil defence operated Unimog vehicle. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare flooding victim: ‘There were times I wanted to give up’

RESIDENTS in South-East Clare have no flood insurance for their home for the last five years after it was cancelled by an insurance company.

In an interview with the Clare Champion, Geraldine Quinlivan recalled in March 2016 their insurance company sent them their renewal notice with a highlighted pen, confirming they were no longer covering them for flood risk for their dwelling in Springfield, Clonlara.

She also confirmed the company didn’t telephone them to discuss this issue before their flood insurance was cancelled. The company still provides general house insurance.

“It is an added strain because you no longer have a safety net of thinking if the house gets damaged I will be able to repair it when you see flood water approaching your house.”

She pointed out flood-hit residents in other areas had requested insurance companies to reinstate flood cover following the provision of protection works.

“Flooding has a devastating impact on all of the community. People are affected in different ways. We are affected because of the depth of the water.

“For other people, access to their house is denied. We are concerned about trying to keep water out of our house and trying to get in and out.”

Her mother’s house, which is located a short distance away, has flooded more frequently than other dwellings because it is lower than some of the newer houses.
She recalled it was very upsetting to see flood water pouring into to her family home.

“It is particularly upsetting because we have a real emotional attachment to the place we were born and raised knowing that my parents looked after it very well.
“To see the water coming in and flowing out the back window was devastating for us. To walk in on the soggy floor and see how high up the water mark came inside the house. Leaves and muck are left on the floor in the bathroom and kitchen.

She recalled they invested their own money to carry out repairs in their own home after the most recent flooding last year.

Ms Quinlivan admitted she was a bit worried the flood protection works could be put on the long finger again when an issue arose about potential seepage a few months ago, which was resolved.
Back in 1995, she recalled residents first initiated their campaign for flood protection works and noted some of these householders are now deceased.

Residents have been told it could take between six to eight months to build the new embankment. However, a lot will depend on the winter in Springfield, as the water gets deep very quickly in this area.

“Although residents are elated and delighted these flood protection works are going ahead, we still have this winter to get over. If there is serious flooding during the winter, I assume work would have to cease on the protection works and the council’s normal winter emergency plan would kick into action.

Heavy goods vehicles are using the main Newtown to Clonlara road to draw in material for the embankment.

Ms Quinlivan is very proud of the fact that 13 personal submissions were made by residents supporting the need for the embankment.

She understands once a flood embankment is built, the house relocation scheme is no longer an option.

She paid tribute to residents who have campaigned for decades for flood relief works.

“There were times when I wanted to give up but people said no you have to keep going. Residents picked me up, and I got my mojo back again. There were times we thought we were going nowhere.

“Some of our politicians were very supportive and others both local and national deputies were missing in action. They know who they are.

“Joe and I have been attending meetings up and down the country since 2006. We were coming down from Athlone one night and took a wrong turn during a blizzard because we couldn’t see where we were going. Looking back you wonder how you did it, but now it was all worth it.

She acknowledged the efforts of Clare County Council, Minster of State, Patrick O’Donovan, local landowners and others who brought this scheme to fruition.

Acknowledging this flood embankment will have its limitations, she pointed out removing the pinch points on the River Shannon near Plassey will have to be looked at.

by Dan Danaher

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