While the Government task force on flooding gave a cautious assessment that river levels, rainfall and the associated threats had “stablilised”, they warned fresh difficulties were ahead as people get back to normal routines.
Gardai said almost every county had impassable regional and local roads but there were also diversions on main routes as well as some disruption to railway lines. “We’re asking people to be very careful,” said Superintendent John Ferris after the daily meeting of the National Coordination Group..
“Traffic volumes on all roads will increase in the coming days so we’re asking people to recognise that many roads have been flooded, for weeks at this stage, and there will be debris and potholes.
“Make sure that it’s safe to travel the routes that you’re proposing to use.
Use motorways and primary routes wherever possible and for pedal cyclists and motorcyclists, if you’re likely to go into an area where there’s flood waters rethink your mode of transport.”
Latest figures presented to the meeting show 260 homes have been flooded in the worst affected areas, another 230 are under continuing threat and 130 have been marooned by flood waters, but officials stressed the full picture would only become clear once the emergency response period ended.
But a small number of houses on the west side of Athlone town were due for evacuation yesterday and rural homes on the southern side were expected to come within the danger zone as the Shannon — already higher than during the disastrous floods of 2009 — continues to rise over the coming days.
Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works said the flood situation remained “severe” not only on the Shannon but also on the Erne, Barrow, Suir, Munster Blackwater and Bandon rivers.
“Others have fallen but remain at a very high level, such as the Slaney, Nore, Inny and Moy. Even though they’re falling they still need to be monitored carefully,” he said.
“Ongoing flood defence efforts will need to continue — maintenance of temporary defences, pumping etc — for some time yet.”
More rain is forecast, falling mainly as showers over the next two to three days but with some significant rainfall feared on Wednesday night and Thursday.
Floods will top the agenda for the Cabinet’s first meeting since Christmas tomorrow.