Clare braced for the worst as flood risks show little sign of abating

Parts of east Clare on the lower Shannon were preparing for the threat of flooding yesterday afternoon.

Clare braced for the worst as flood risks show little sign of abating

A number of houses at Springfield near the village of Clonlara were at risk and Clare County Council supplied sand bags to residents who were assisted by gardaí and the Civil Defence.

Three of 14 houses in the area were under threat last night as was parts of the University of Limerick Campus, on the Clare side of the Shannon. Parts of the campus were flooded in 2009 when Springfield was also flooded.

Flooding near Feakle, Co Clare, on Saturday afternoon.
Flooding near Feakle, Co Clare, on Saturday afternoon.

Following that incident, an embankment was built to protect houses in Springfield. The biggest threat is expected at around 6am this morning when the floods, which have occurred in upper reaches of the Shannon near Athlone, will have made their way downstream past Parteen Weir.

High water can take up to 18 hours to make its way from the upper Shannon to the southern parts of the river. Parteen Weir is critical in the management of the flood crisis. In recent days the ESB has had to release huge amounts of water into the lower Shannon which stretches about 13km from the weir to Limerick city.

Flooded farmland near Feakle, Co Clare, on Saturday afternoon.
Flooded farmland near Feakle, Co Clare, on Saturday afternoon.

The river runs parallel to the channel which funnels water from Parteen Weir down to Ardnacrusha Power Station. The ESB, at times of heavy rain, has to try and balance the flow of water into the two waterways which run off Parteen Weir.

The flows down the Shannon were increased to 375 cumecs (metres cubed per second) yesterday, from a rate of 315 cumecs the previous day. As the water in Lough Derg continues to rise, an increase in the level of water flowing down the old River Shannon will be required over the next number of days.

A spokesman for the ESB said: “This increased volume of water is likely to lead to associated flooding of roads, land and property in the vicinity of the old River Shannon downstream of Parteen Weir including the areas of Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty) and the University of Limerick.”

Darragh Minogue rows down a road near his house in Feakle, Co Clare, on Monday.
Darragh Minogue rows down a road near his house in Feakle, Co Clare, on Monday.

As the heavy rain persists, the level of the Shannon continues to rise, given that it drains up to 20% of the entire country. Flooding upstream at Athlone is now taking its toll on the huge challenge of trying to cope with the flow through Parteen Weir.

Meanwhile, business owners in Skibbereen say they are disappointed with news that a fresh tender will have to be issued regarding the flood relief works in the West Cork town.

It emerged on Monday that the preferred bidder, Roadbridge, had pulled out after the OPW had to submit the tender to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to further evaluate the environmental impact statement. The OPW confirmed a new tender would now have to be issued but said it was hoped any delay would not be significant, with the project still due to start in spring/early summer 2016.

A motorist braves the flood waters that cut off the Dún Na hÍnse and Brookeville housing estates in Ennis, Co Clare, at the weekend. Picture: Press 22
A motorist braves the flood waters that cut off the Dún Na hÍnse and Brookeville housing estates in Ennis, Co Clare, at the weekend. Picture: Press 22

However, Mary O’Donovan, spokesperson for the Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce, said people in the town were dismayed by the news. “The general consensus is people are very disappointed that this setback has happened, and concerned at what we saw in Bandon,” she said.

Elsewhere, some businesses in Fermoy which had flood relief works completed a year ago, have still not been given flood insurance. Like some businesses in Bandon and other areas, some businesses in Fermoy had not had flood insurance and despite the relief works being completed, that situation has not changed.

The River Fergus in Ennis, Co Clare, which burst its banks and flooded a number of businesses. Picture: Press 22
The River Fergus in Ennis, Co Clare, which burst its banks and flooded a number of businesses. Picture: Press 22

Adrian Godwin of the Fermoy Business Action Group said: “It is not a given. It depends on the individual insurer.”

However, he said the completed flood relief scheme had brought greater certainty to businesses in the town, with no flooding last weekend.

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