Monday, November 30, 2009

The Human Spirit

The Human Spirit

The floods that have destroyed areas of Athlone this week have been devastating for those concerned. To have your home violated by a flood is a truly distressing issue.

I have spoken at length with people who have lost their properties or businesses and the tales are truly harrowing, yet one thing that everyone is in agreement with is the superb effort from the general public of the town and the country as a whole.

I am involved in the flood relief support group and it seems that every community and voluntary group in the area is throwing their full support behind this venture.

People have been amazing offering their time, money and possessions to help those less fortunate than themselves. The feeling with the volunteers is “there but for the grace of god go I” We are the lucky ones.

Floods are a natural disaster, but they discriminate against those who live closest to the water, and once the water rises there is nothing you can do.

The community spirit is superb. I just hope that we can learn from this disaster and keep community support at a high level going forward.

I must commend the local representatives who have given up their time to fill sand bags and assist the families most affected. I am sure people will remember these gestures.

On the other hand the point must be made that last Tuesday when council workers refused to strike in other flood affected areas around the country, Athlone was not so lucky and the council workers stayed at home. This in itself was a major public relations gaff, and left the affected people feeling isolated.

I feel that sometimes we need a disaster of sorts to awaken those altruistic feeling within us. A flood relief centre has been opened in the Athlone Town Centre and volunteers are desperately needed to man the area from 9.00am – 9.00pm, so if you have a few spare hours get down to the town centre and show your support.

When the dust has settled on the floods in this area, I know that blame will have to be apportioned and difficult decisions will need to be taken.

Athlone is built on the beautiful river Shannon and it breathes life into the town on a daily basis, but occasionally it comes and bites us when we least expect it.

We need to respect the river and put an emergency plan in place so that when the floods return, because they most certainly will, that we are ready to support those most in need.

Our government need to take notice and assist the stricken communities both now and in the future. The community are doing their bit, now its up to the elected representatives to do theirs.

I must dash now, as I have to get into a boat and go and visit my in laws. The one road out from their house is flooded and can only be accessed by boat. I do hope the water has receded by Christmas. I don’t feel like carrying the turkey in a boat.

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