It was raining and freezing and we were on the road to Ballyfermot, a little rural hamlet on the southern outskirts of Galway.
The water was still there, but we were using the phone and texting to ask questions to the locals.
Why did they have to go to the shops?
Why didn’t they come home to the house that they’d left behind?
Why were they leaving?
We were asked about everything from the weather to the health of the population, but none of it seemed to make much of an impact on the people of Ballyfeathers.
The town is in the same area as a former fishing village, and its population of around 1,500 is one of the poorest in the country.
Its a rural hamlets in an Irish seaside town that has seen a flood of the sort seen here more than a century ago, when the local residents built a new home to take care of the local wildlife.
The area has a history of flooding and the town’s only electricity is provided by diesel generators that are often on a generator-by-generator basis.
The local council has also been unable to provide a road, and residents are now forced to rely on a caravan park as a temporary solution.
The situation is not helped by a recent change in the laws on land sales, with owners of land that is no longer suitable for farming being required to apply for permission to sell it.
There is a fear that if the government doesn’t act now, the town could go the way of Bandon and Kildare, towns that were severely affected by floods in the late 1990s.
A recent survey carried out by the Irish Times found that about a quarter of the town were considering selling their homes and properties, and a further 17 per cent of the residents believed they could not afford to keep them.
The Government is currently considering the issue, and says it will publish a draft plan on land-selling in the next two weeks.
In the meantime, Ballybegers are being forced to live on the land of others.
A number of other hamlets and villages in the area have been evacuated, including a school and a hospital.
The Environment Agency has also warned that a new flood is possible.
“We expect the weather and conditions to continue to deteriorate over the next few days, but the risk of a serious flooding event is high,” it said.
“The risk of flood is high if there is heavy rainfall, heavy downpours, or if there are coastal flooding.”
Ballybeggers Mayor John Kelly said the town had been hit hard by the recent flooding and would not be able to recover until further notice.
But the local council is planning to evacuate its residents as soon as possible, which means the town will not be completely dry for the foreseeable future.
The Irish Times