Classroom isolated as floodwaters rise around it

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

ABOUT 25 schoolchildren were marooned when rising floodwater surrounded their classroom in Co Westmeath yesterday.

Met Éireann said the heavy rain, which had affected many parts of the country, cleared from the west last night.

The pupils of Cornamaddy National School – all aged between six and seven – were using a prefab when the incident occurred. School principal Aidan Barry said there was a lot of rain overnight and water had gathered on the football pitch and main yard.

Despite the deluge, the pupils were able to gain access to the classroom when they arrived for school yesterday morning.

However, as the rain persisted water began to rise around the prefab and Mr Barry decided to contact the council and Independent councillor Kevin Moran.

Mr Moran, who has his own pumping equipment, which he previously used in the 2009 floods in Athlone, spent about two hours clearing water away from the area.

“The water around the prefabs began to rise and it left the kids locked into the prefabs. I couldn’t believe it, it was up to a foot and a half of water,” he said.

It is unclear whether the children were aware of the drama unfolding outside, but they were all able to leave their classroom in time for lunch. Mr Barry said he would examine possible measures to prevent a similar event from occurring again. No damage was caused to the classroom, which is raised on blocks, he added.

Elsewhere, floodwaters crept to within inches of doorways in Clonakilty, Co Cork, for the third time in five months with 28mm of rain falling on Wednesday night.

Eight days after a protest march outside town council offices, Casement St and Wolfe Tone St were impassable at 2am yesterday, while a torrent of water surged down the eastern entrance point to the town from an overflowing drain.

Gardaí, council workers and Civil Defence volunteers used sandbags to direct the water out to sea, but locals are angry over the lack of emergency action by the Office of Public Works and the council. “We are sitting on a time bomb,” business owner Con McLoughlin said. He warned council officials at a meeting last week to take action.

The problem’s origins stem from the development of key flood plains.

Clonakilty Town Council plans to install additional gullies, pipes and drains directing surface waters into the river Feale and the bay.

Mayor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin called for works to begin on Monday. He said the town was now plagued by “fear and anxiety” due to the threat of flooding.

“I am demanding that we see JCBs on the streets next Monday and the works commence,” he said.