Friday, August 01, 2008
For The First Time
The Arra has never flooded before, at least not that anyone can recall. A heavy rain overnight sent the water flowing over the banks, into Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick. Roads where my ancestors once walked are under water, shops where they used to call have been swamped.
It came as a surprise in the middle of the night. The weather service couldn't have predicted it, and those who live along the banks of the River Arra had to be evacuated, with help from the fire brigade and a Coast Guard helicopter.
There was a time when the area was home to dairy farms and tanneries. The town was small, and the open land was large. Plenty of space to absorb rain water.
Even a quiet outpost like Newcastlewest was touched by the boom of the Celtic Tiger. New homes, new paved roads, new parking lots---all contributed to the first flood in memory. If there's no open ground for the rain to fall on and soak into, the water runs off until it finds a low spot. Down the streets, off the roofs, and straight to the Arra it went, buckets and buckets of rain, until the Arra filled up and climbed higher.
The first flood has come, to the dismay of those who didn't have insurance, but if there's never been a flood who'd spend money for something they've never needed before?
Development comes at a price sometimes, a cost that is not budgeted. Cover the land with hard surfaces and the rain will go where it will. It's a modern reality, a knock-on effect of spreading out.