Fears that major rivers could burst their banks

Communities living next to rivers are on high alert amid warnings that the country’s major waterways could burst their banks today or over the weekend with the forecast of heavy rain.

While the risk of tidal flooding will recede, emergency services and local authorities will remain vigilant, officials at the national emergency co-ordination centre agreed.

TDs are also pushing for solutions to be found for residents who are unable to persuade insurance companies to cover their homes.

The national emergency co-ordination group — which includes emergency services, several government departments, and local authorities — met yesterday to again discuss the threat posed by rising rivers and the potential of floods.

In a statement, it said the unsettled weather is likely to continue for the next number of days.

There will be heavy rainfall, particularly across the south, today, and into the weekend. “This rain will serve to top-up the already near capacity of our rivers and poses a major risk,” said the statement. “This risk is heightened in slow-moving rivers, and particularly the Shannon.

“The Barrow, Nore, and Slaney are also at very high levels and any additional rain may cause serious flooding.”

Residents living near rivers or facing floods are being advised to check waterlevel.ie and flooding.ie over the coming days.

“Local authorities are on high alert [and] are planning and making the necessary preparations for further flooding,” said the group.

The ESB said it should be able to help manage water levels in the Shannon while Athlone Town Council said there would hopefully be no significant flooding on low-level ground in that area.

The co-ordination group said emergency relief funds were available through the Department of Social Protection. There is no limit to amounts for households.

Co-ordination group chairman Sean Hogan requested that the public continue to heed the safety warnings of the authorities and noted that there have fortunately been no fatalities in the current flooding.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday briefly discussed compensation funding for communities hit by flooding in recent days as well as last month.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan will give a report to ministers next week that is expected to significantly hike the amount of estimated damage beyond the €65m costs already submitted by local authorities.

Meanwhile, Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said over 50,000 homes cannot get flood insurance and, with the recent floods, that number would get higher.

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