Families hope to return to Athlone apartment complex

Residents moved to hotels after ESB forced to cut power as flood waters approached

 Emily Topka from Poland outside the Bastion Apartments in Athone, Co Westmeath, where she owns a ground floor appartment.  So far water has not entered the building. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

Emily Topka from Poland outside the Bastion Apartments in Athone, Co Westmeath, where she owns a ground floor appartment. So far water has not entered the building. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

 

Twenty-three families who were evacuated from an apartment complex in Athlone, Co Westmeath, due to flooding were hoping to return to their homes today.

The families were moved to hotels on Sunday when the ESB was forced to cut power at the Bastion Quay complex for safety reasons as flood waters approached.

Across Athlone, where water levels have exceeded 2009 flood levels by 40mm, some 48 families have now had to leave their homes.

One Bastion Quay resident, Boris Zivkovic, moved to the nearby Shamrock Lodge Hotel with his one-year-old son and his wife after the power cut.

Difficult situation

Mr Zivkovic, who is from Serbia, has been living in a third-floor apartment of the complex for the past three years.

“Our kid enjoyed it because it is new for him,” Mr Zivkovic said.

However, the situation was more difficult for Mr Zivkovic and his wife, who have found their family routine affected.

“This is all upset now,” he said. “If you have a family, if you are old, it is a big problem.”

He was hopeful the affected area could be blocked off with sandbags and the water pumped away to remove any risk to electric boxes.

“If we don’t start pumping this, we will probably be a week before we get back,” he said.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, was annoyed that a pump and sandbags weren’t in place earlier.

“It is something that could have been prevented if a pump was in place,” the resident said.

A spokesman for the management company at the Bastion Quay complex had hoped the residents could return yesterday evening.

He said “the water has not gone into the building and is not expected to”.

Electrical boxes

The company said it was working with the county council and the ESB to raise the electrical boxes to allow power to be reinstated as soon as possible.

There was some good news for Athlone’s residents following a forecast from the ESB. Westmeath County Council said river levels will not rise any further between now and January 8th, and may fall slightly.

Tired local volunteers are being assisted by 24 members of the Defence Forces, the Civil Defence, council staff and other agencies.

Derek Liddy, a member of the Order of Malta, has been manning the pumps defending his home at The Park estate for the past five weeks.

“You wake up in the morning and you are watching the levels. You are not sleeping right. It is just there at the back of your mind day and night,” he said.