‘I have lost 25 acres of land. My life is totally devastated’

Rahara village will be submerged in water this winter and long-standing residents will lose their homes, a public meeting was told on Monday night.

  About eighty people attended the meeting in Rahara National School about the area’s flooding crisis, which was ironically held on a day when temperatures soared to more than 25C.

  The focus was not on the current situation, but on the “devastation” that could lie ahead this winter if urgent action was not taken.

  Tommy Carney, who jointly chaired the meeting, said that Lough Funshinagh at Rahara rose to 4 ft. higher than ever earlier this year and had only receded by about 32 inches since then.

  He said that it would need to go down by a further 11 ft. by the autumn to reach the normal winter level. Failing that, he said, devastation lay ahead.

  Matthew Beattie, who lives at Balla, Rahara, looked ahead with dread.  “What we know for certain this winter is that the lower part of the village is going to be submerged in 4/5 ft. of water. That is no exaggeration and based on what we have seen this year,” he said. 

  “The turlough has risen over 4 ft. higher than ever before. If that continues with a modest rainfall this winter, we are heading for a dire situation.”

  He said that that crisis was bound to happen by December.

  “What that means is that people are going to lose their homes. Families who have lived in this locality for generations will not have a home for Christmas,” Mr. Beattie told the crowd.

  “In addition to that, farmland is going to be lost. There is already a significant amount of acreage of farmland lost and that will continue next years.

  “Slatted house, any homes for feeding animals, etc, will also be lost.”

  He said that it was a dire situation that needed to be addressed by politicians, many of whom were in attendance, including Denis Naughten, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

  “I am saying to all the elected representatives: we voted you guys in to represent us, and we celebrated when you won your seats. Now we want a return for that,” Mr. Beattie said.

  “If these issues are not sorted out, you have failed us as individuals; you have failed us as a group of people; and you have failed all the business people and farmers in the community trying to get on with their lives.”

  It has been suggested that relocating people was the only viable option, but Mr. Beattie dismissed such an idea.

  “The idea of relocating people is not something that should put on the table. For anybody who understands rural life, it is not just a house: it is a home that people have lived in for generations,” he said.

  “They livelihoods are in the area, their farms and the farming community.”

  Another man, Colm Mee, said that flooding had “devastated the place” and that he had suffered a considerable personal toll.

  “I have lost 25 acres of land. All the trees died a slow death. My life is totally devastated. Something must be done quickly,” Mr. Mee said.