Pensioner feared for his life in Donegal flood

Lifford pensioner feared for his life in Castlefin flood

70-year-old pensioner Billy Brown had a terrifying ordeal in flood waters

A 70-year-old pensioner said he feared for his life last Saturday afternoon when flooding from the River Finn spilled over on to Hollow Road, a by-road outside Castlefin, and almost swept him and his Citroën Berlingo van away.
Retired carpenter, Billy Brown from Coolatee, was taken home after his ordeal while members of his family recovered his van which now lies outside his home unable to move.
Still shaken from his ordeal, Mr Brown predicted this week that someone would lose their life if that particular road was not made flood-proof.
“I was up at the Clonleigh Co-Op in Castlefin to get some nuts for my horses and decided to go back home via the Hollow Road as I usually do. I know the road well and it's a bit of a short cut back out on to the main road to Lifford.
“The sun was shining on the water on the road at the time. I saw the water but it didn't seem bad enough to stop me driving on it as I had done many times in the past.
“I also noticed debris at the fence on the side of the road after I drove into the water. The next thing I knew I was being swept out into the middle of the road. I thought I was going to drown. I tried to get the door open but couldn’t because of the strength of the water. I eventually got the window down and that let the water into the van which allowed me to open the door and get out.”
He added he was still unsure of how to handle the situation as the water was up to his chest at the time and he feared he would be dragged under.
“The water was about 4'6" deep at that stage. I thought I was gone. Everything in the van was destroyed including my phone and some important documents. I was so lucky as Francie Curran (86) from Hillhead and his son, William, came along and helped me out of immediate danger. They took me home and made sure I was alright. Only for them, I don’t know what might have happened,” he said.
Mr Patton was critical of what he claimed was a lack of warning signage at the flooding incident.
“There were no road closure or flood warning signs on the road when I went down it so I didn’t think there was any danger. There was water on the road but it didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary,” he claimed.
He also claimed a Donegal County Council lorry came along when he was trying to get out of the water but it turned and drove off instead of helping him.
“I couldn’t shout at them, I was fighting for my life and very scared but I was shocked when their vehicle turned and drove off without helping me. I'd like an explanation from the council for this," he said.
He also said the time was long overdue for the council to address the flooding problem in this particular section of roadway.
“The work needed to stop this road from flooding should have been done years ago and I have no doubt someone will get into serious trouble or even lose a life if that doesn’t happen soon. This road should have been closed once it was clear there was going to be a flood.
“It’s terrible in this day and age that water is allowed to lie like this and cause such a problem. The local councillors should not have allowed this situation to develop either. I’m sure they all know how it fills up during a flood. I was lucky this happened during the afternoon. If it had been at night it might have been a different story,” he said.
A spokesperson for Donegal County Council said yesterday that its resources were stretched responding to flooding related call outs over the weekend and this may have resulted in delays in responding to specific incidents.

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