On late Tuesday January 2nd I recall thinking how this drawn-out month was going to be mundane – but suddenly, it wasn’t!
Earlier that day I had felt that as the run up to Christmas, the day itself, and the new year celebrations were now over, the excitement was over too. January would bring humdrum and day in, day out ordinariness.
Within minutes, a radio broadcast was reporting how impending storm Eleanor was going to come much closer to Galway than was initially reported. A natural wariness occurred with recent memories of Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian.
I left the radio in the kitchen and sat on the armchair in the living room with my laptop. A small series of online videos were being rapidly shared across social media. People were tagging and liking friend’s posts of flooded streets in order to warn those who had yet to leave work at the end of their first day back in the New Year. Comments replied of gratitude for the information but also responses of people who had, unknown to themselves, ended up on flooded roads only to now realise that they would be fortunate to get home safely that evening.
As I snuggled in my warm sitting room watching the RTÉ news bulletins, it all seemed quite unbelievable how roads only a couple of kilometres from where I sat were making national headlines. Seeing the floods across Salthill promenade wasn’t new to me, but, as it occurs now more regularly, I still wondered at how far the seawater comes inland and how threatening it looks on the big screen. As the prom is (usually) a place of peace, watching the storm unfold proved the opposite of the tranquility that an easy ramble on a summer’s evening can bring.
When other footage showed Quay Street under water I was taken aback. Reports of businesses being threatened and premises under water added humanity to the story. Then, when the updated information alerted viewers that a further high tide would occur around 5:30am the following morning, alarm bells started ringing in my head. Despite my feelings of empathy towards the business owners who would have to do their best to clean up the soiled stock, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the homeless knew that another high tide was on the way in only a few more hours.
As I was off work the following morning, I decided to go into the city once the winds died down to see if anyone needed help and perhaps to offer what I could during this sudden time of stress.
Soon after I met Michael, a homeless man, and we talked for a while. I was about to receive a lesson in life that I will never forget!
Michael – Part 1
Michael Part 2