An unfortunate turn of events struck one Donegal business owner last night whose store was destroyed while she was helping others elsewhere.

Karen Doherty in Burnfoot owns the Floors R Us shop and showroom which was ravaged by the severe flash flooding in the North West on Tuesday night.

Floors r Us, Burnfoot, Co. Donegal

She was in Buncrana filling sandbags to help other people when she got a call telling her to come back to her own shop.

Flood Damage at Floors r Us, Burnfoot, Co. Donegal

Karen told Donegal Daily: “I was helping a friend’s aunt whose house was being hit by water up to her door. I thought I was doing a good turn but little did I realise that my own shop was flooded,” she said.

“A friend rang to tell me Burnfoot was flooded but I didn’t realise how bad it really was.”

At 9.30pm Karen was to return as quick as possible.

“They told me there was 3ft of water in the shop. The local river had burst its banks. But it wasn’t water that was there. It was pure muck.”

Karen made her way to Burnfoot but met a roadblock as a bridge had collapsed on the way. She was stranded for two hours, not knowing how bad the damage was at her business.

Donegal Senator Padraig MacLochlainn advised Karen over the phone that it was too dangerous to keep travelling and she should get some rest for the night. Karen went home to Dunree.

“People were sending me photos of the damage. I kept hoping and praying it wasn’t as bad. But what I saw today was much worse.”

At 7am this morning Karen was met with 6 to 12 inches of mucky water still lying throughout the store. She and her husband and friends have spent the day using mops to wipe out the water and are now hosing off the dirt.

“Everything is gone. The tiles, timber floors, carpets, desks, chairs, photos, all gone,” she said.

Today they are piling destroyed stock into a skip and already making plans to put in a new floor.

Karen, who is originally from Wicklow, opened up Floors R Us two and a half years ago. She works six days a week and prides herself on having a customer orientated store and knowing all her local customers well.

“This is just a small family-run business. I can’t afford to close.

“I am going to see what I can salvage from samples, even to cut off pieces that are okay.

“I just have to get on with it. I’m not going to sit here crying.

“I have four kids are home who are ringing steadily asking where I am and what’s happening. I’m lucky to have mum looking after them today.

“You work so hard to build everything up and it’s all gone in half an hour. There’s nothing you can do but sit and watch it go.”

Just as she was eager to help people last night, Karen is heartened by the many offers of help she is getting from locals.

“People are so good offering to help out. That alone is good to hear but I don’t want to put anyone out. The whole town is dismayed by the floods. Some people are worse off than me, they’ve lost their homes.”

“I keep telling myself it could have been a lot worse. Someone could have been seriously hurt or injured or drowned. There were people who had to be lifted out of the windows of their homes in
Líos Na Greíne.”

The next step for Karen is to get a humidifier into the store and begin refurbishments. They have ordered a new floor and hope to be able to use their remaining stock to help others repair their own homes.

“I have to be here to help. I know what it’s like to lose so much,” she said.

If you have a story to share, email