A SINGLE mother of two is left counting the cost after her home suffered serious water damage from a burst water tank.
Despite it being council policy to treat gas, electricity or plumbing emergencies as priority repairs, the leaking tank was first reported to the council a week before they got around to tackling the problem.
Deirdre Bergin has been living in the council-owned house at the Imleach housing estate in The Swan for the past 12 years.
She said: “I was away over the weekend. When I turned the key in the door on Sunday night (15 April), I noticed water all over the floors and dripping from the light fittings on the ceilings.
“I contacted Laois County Council first thing the following Monday morning. I was told the problem would be marked urgent and someone would get back to me, but nobody did until Friday morning. It wasn’t until yesterday morning (Monday) that a plumber was sent out to replace the tank.
“I have had no heating or water in the house since Monday week. I was unable to turn on the electricity either, because water was coming down the walls of the sitting room where the light switch is and pissing out of the light fixtures. All the house is now damp.
“The house is destroyed. The ceilings are all flaking off paint. I’m not sure if there is water damage done to the timber in the ceilings or upstairs floorboards. The towels I have used to wipe up the water are gathering mould in the washing machine, while the dishes are piling up in the sink. I can’t flush my toilet either. It really is dreadful the way we have been left.”
Ms Bergin opened up a diary of her Facebook page and documented her daily attempts at trying to get Laois County Council to repair the leak.
She said on her page that going public about the issue “wasn’t the route I wanted to go down, but feel I had no choice”.
On her daily postings she described her attempts at trying to make contact with Laois County Council. On one of the days, she travelled a round trip of 28 miles into the council offices in Portlaoise only to be told she could use a telephone in the council foyer to speak to a housing staff member and that no-one had come to speak with her directly.
She said: “They would not even send someone out to meet me and I had to turn around and come home.”
On another post, she wrote: “Huge wet patches growing in size across the sitting room and wet patches showing up on the kitchen wall.”
So desperate was she that she offered the last €50 she had in her purse to any plumber who would come to the house to try and identify the problem. She said on her page that one came and did not accept the €50 but told her that a new immersion heater that had been installed onto the tank a month previously was the problem and was leaking.
She said: “He told me that it had taken a month for the water to seep onto the lagging coating around the tank and then onto the timber floor under the tank before it started flowing onto the ceilings, down the walls and down the light fixtures.”
Head of housing at the council Michael Rainey said that in line with council policy, he could not comment on an individual case.
He confirmed that the council treat gas, electricity or plumbing emergencies as priority repairs and that those issues are seen to as quickly as possible, “subject to our resources and to the availability of contractors”.
Local councillor Ben Brennan has called on the council to carry out an assessment of the damage caused to the house and to carry out the repairs caused by the water, where necessary.