This issue, which has received widespread news coverage over the last 36 hours or so, concerns the unprecedented flooding as a result of almost freak weather conditions in west Donegal, a Gaeltacht area, in the parish of Gweedore, one of the strongest Gaeltachtaí in the country. Severe, heavy rainfall resulted in rivers bursting their banks. Bridges were broken, houses flooded and roads torn apart. People have seen in the national media that there was 8 ft. to 10 ft. of water in certain areas, including the sean Teach an Phobail, the old church in Derrybeg.
I have spoken to numerous local residents over the last 36 hours or so who have explained their personal circumstances. While there is the global element of destruction being caused, there is also the localised destruction of private dwellings, where roads going into private houses have been torn apart and gardens, houses and sheds have become waterlogged.
It is a very serious, emergency situation. As I mentioned, it has affected private dwellings, business premises, community facilities, including religious facilities, and farms, including farmers who even lost sheep stock which were washed out to sea as a result of the heavy rainfall. County, regional and local roads have been torn apart. Public bridges along regional and county roads have also been torn apart. Footpaths and public walkways have been severely damaged and access points to private homes blocked.
Since the issue emerged on Tuesday evening between 4.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. when I started to receive telephone calls from members of the public in the area, Donegal County Council has reacted swiftly. It has reacted in an emergency manner dealing with it on a local basis. Despite being under increasing financial pressure, the roads section deserves special recognition for the work it has done. It has reacted magnificently. Credit is also due to the roads engineers, the area manager and the director of roads and transportation, Mr. John McLoughlin. The Donegal county manager, Mr. Michael McLoone, visited the site yesterday and spent most of the afternoon at the location to see at first-hand the damage that had been caused.
The main issue arising is the cost of the damage. Donegal County Council is putting together a comprehensive overview of the indicative cost of the damage caused. It is hoped the report will be ready overnight before the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, and the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Coughlan, visit Gweedore tomorrow morning. The report will provide a technical overview of the money required to repair the damage. While the council is continuing with this work, it simply does not have the resources locally to repair the damage. That is where Government intervention is required to deal with this unprecedented situation. There may be a number of Government agencies, including the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Transport, involved. I have spoken to two Ministers today and appreciate that the Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, is coming to Donegal tomorrow morning. However, Government intervention and financial assistance for Donegal County Council is required in order to reinstate the public infrastructure that has been severely damaged as a result of flooding.
Luckily no lives were lost. The same parish suffered flooding more than 100 years ago when five lives were lost while people were attending church. Money needs to be ring-fenced. There must be a co-ordinated response which I understand the Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, will be leading. I hope financial assistance will be available to Donegal County Council and the people of Gweedore to overcome this nightmare. It is a nightmare for the families and individuals affected.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me to raise the issue. It is important to raise it and I look forward to hearing the response of the Minister of State.