Towns on high alert as rainstorm sweeps in

Flooded farmlands in the River Shannon catchment area this week. Picture: Irish Defence Forces

Swollen rivers and today’s rolling storm front have left many inland towns on high flood alert.

Up to 50mm of rain is expected to fall this weekend, feeding water systems that are already full. The places at high risk over the next 72 hours are in the midlands and along the main river banks.

Levels in the River Barrow slipped back after getting dangerously close to the banks on Wednesday. However, as last night’s rain poured down, warnings were again issued by Carlow and Kildare councils. There are particular concerns for Carlow Town and Athy.

The River Slaney has also been posing a threat and the rain predicted for today will put riverside communities on high alert.

Levels in the upper Shannon remained below breaking point and the path of the storm looks as though towns such as Athlone will be spared damage until early next week at least.

In Limerick, there was no immediate threat of flooding as the tidal pressure receded.

In Cork, Bandon was the subject of a yellow flood warning.

There was also concern for towns along the River Blackwater in north Cork, with residents living near slow-moving sections of this and other rivers warned to be on guard.

As the rain threatens inland communities, a more severe orange alert was issued for places vulnerable to high winds, expected this afternoon.

The gardaí and coastguard appealed for people to be sensible.

Garda Superintendent David Taylor said: “People need to recognise the destructive and dangerous power of nature and exercise extreme caution when close to areas such as cliff walks, harbours, rivers, and lakes.”

Meanwhile, Cork City’s biggest property developer, Owen O’Callaghan, took the ESB to task at a conference in Cork over its role in the 2009 flooding which put the city under water.

He said he was more concerned about ESB water management at Inniscarra dam than about tidal flooding in Cork harbour.

ESB hydro manager Senan Colleran had made a presentation on flooding to the Cobh Harbour and Chamber Conference earlier, without mentioning the disaster.

Instead, Mr Colleran’s speech focused on the limited capacity of the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid reservoirs, and the fast-flowing nature of the River Lee.

Mr O’Callaghan demanded to know why the flow of water had “not been controlled more” in 2009 and “why hadn’t the water been left off gradually for the two and three weeks prior to that”.

“The ESB were very lucky that nobody was drowned that evening,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

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