Simon Harris, the minister in charge of the Office of Public Works, said areas around the lower and middle bases of the Shannon, including Athlone, could be flooded. He said local authorities were compiling their assessments of the damage from the recent heavy rainfall, which would amount to at least several million euro.
The ESB yesterday told the national emergency co-ordination group that the Shannon would rise to 440 cubic metres a second — just short of its damaging peak in 2009, which left large swaths of the country underwater.
The ESB said it had to increase the flow of water through the Parteen Weir, due to the rising levels coming from Lough Derg.
The water-flow will likely increase flooding of roads, land and property in the vicinity of the Shannon, downstream of Parteen Weir, including the areas of Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty), and the University of Limerick.
Mr Harris said there were concerns about flooding in Athlone, although authorities were insisting it would only affect a small number of areas in the town. About 700 members of the Defence Forces have been deployed around the country to flood-hit areas in the last week, he said. Chairman of the co-ordination group, John Barry, said that up to 50 homes had been evacuated.
Mr Harris said businesses had been unable to get cover in flood-prone areas and an interdepartmental group would report back on this next year.
The Government have set up a compensation scheme, administered through the Red Cross, which will initially give €5,000 to businesses hit by the floods.
The Irish Red Cross’s Paul Anderson says businesspeople with small enterprises can avail of emergency funding to help with the clean-up.
The Department of Social Protection is establishing emergency clinics to help people to claim compensation, if their homes or businesses have been damaged. Compensation for owners of uninsured premises hit by the flooding would be paid by Christmas, Mr Harris said yesterday.
Mr Harris will be in Bandon and Skibbereen, Co Cork, today, to meet local representatives and communities to discuss flood-relief measures, following the current severe weather. Met Éireann said
today and the rest of next week would see a move towards “more normal weather”.