Bridging the gap - Community devastated by floods pulls together

Locals rallied together and created a temporary fix for the bridge within the space of a few hours. Photos: Caroline Kelly McGonagle.
Locals rallied together and created a temporary fix for the bridge within the space of a few hours. Photos: Caroline Kelly McGonagle.

Two bridges in Illies, damaged by Tuesday night’s floods, were repaired within hours on Wednesday, thanks to the strong spirit of the local community.

The bridges at Stranaclea and Sarida were badly damaged and almost washed away following floods, but eight local men took to work in the early hours of Wednesday, to ensure those cut off would be able to leave their homes.

Local woman Caroline Kelly-McGonagle visited the bridge at 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday and said Stranaclea Bridge was not passable and the concrete street of the adjacent community centre was also badly damaged.

“We returned at 3.00pm, and the bridge had been repaired by several local men who were stranded on the opposite side of the river with no access.

“There was a pregnant woman in the area and the Council had said it would have to evacuate everyone within six hours as more rain was forecast.

“It wasn’t an option for them as they all have their homes, farms and animals there,” noted Caroline.

The eight men decided to solve the problem on their own and they had access to a digger, tractor and trailer on their side of the river. They filled the hole with 18 trailer loads of filling, which then allowed residents to pass over safely.

Once the men were finished at Stranaclea, they made their way to Sarida Bridge to try and create a solution for other residents.

“Sarida proved more challenging, but this community is not easily deterred,” claimed Caroline.

“One of the neighbours, John Donaghey, happened to have not only one, but two footbridges lying in his shed.

“The men set to work and by 5.30pm, the stranded residents of the Big Hill, Sarida and Stranclea didn’t have to evacuate their homes.

“The Council is inundated with a community devastated by the floods, but these men weren’t going to stand around waiting!”