FLOODING: Waters submerging homes, farmland, and roads ‘may not subside for eight weeks’

It may be almost eight weeks before flood waters submerging homes, farmland, and roads subside, authorities have warned.
FLOODING: Waters submerging homes, farmland, and roads ‘may not subside for eight weeks’

Hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their homes and thousands of acres of land remain under water.

In Co Westmeath, about 30 families are living in hotel accommodation after flooding destroyed their homes.

On Wednesday night, nine homes were flooded in Co Wicklow, and in Co Meath, local authorities battled to pump water to save a number of houses.

Met Éireann has forecast dryer weather with some wintry showers across the country in the coming days. However, some rivers will have to be monitored closely in the coming days.

Although drier conditions will provide some reprieve, Brendan McGrath from the City and County Managers’ Association warned it will be some time before flood waters recede and people can get back to their homes.

Speaking after a meeting of the national co-ordination group for response to flooding yesterday, he said: “We are conscious that many properties will be impacted by flooding for a considerable period. The problem is that water will be extremely slow to go down.

“It’s quite likely we will have water in parts of south Galway for many weeks to come, possibly through until the end of February.”

The Defence Forces yesterday brought children in the Athlone and Shannonbridge areas to and from school. Around 150 personnel were on the ground in a number of areas helping with pumping, flood prevention, and transportation.

Mr McGrath said parts of Cavan, Meath, Wicklow, and Mayo had been impacted by heavy rain on Wednesday night, and some rivers may rise in the coming days.

“One of the biggest areas that had problems was north Wicklow, very significant rain fell on the Wicklow Mountains driven on by sea winds.

“Unfortunately water got into eight homes in Kilcoole and one house in Newcastle.

“Meath had three roads temporarily flooded and there was pumping near Mornington to keep a number of houses, and they succeeded in keeping those houses dry.”

Although water levels along the Shannon are falling, Jim Casey of the OPW said we are “still in a severe situation”, with rises recorded on the Nore, Slaney, Boyne, and Bandon rivers.

“All of the gauges on the Shannon catchment have fallen for the first time in many days now,” he said.

“We would stress that we are still in a severe flood situation on the mid to lower Shannon catchment, and also on the upper Erne catchment, and we are in a high flood situation on the lower Erne catchment and the upper Shannon catchment.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton denied there has been a slow reaction to the flooding crisis from the Government.

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

“In the Department of Social Protection, we activated our humanitarian aid programme in relation to flooding for households in early December, because back then, there was a significant flooding incident in Tralee in which 10 families had to move out of their home.

“In December, when I don’t think anybody in the opposition was even aware that there was a threat of flooding, the Government were being very active in relation to putting in place the maximum responses and the maximum strategic strategy to deal with the floods…

“Thankfully today — and I am conscious of the fact that I am speaking from Dublin — but there has been a very fine day here, there were two fine days at the weekend, and really to be honest, the most important solution to the flooding is to have the rain stop.

“The forecast is improving and hopefully that will give us some space for the unfortunate families and businesses to get some relief.”

There is still significant flooding on roads in many parts of the country, and motorists are advised to heed the local authority warnings in this regard.

In East Cork, a boil water notice imposed on the Whitegate regional water supply scheme remains in place. This serves a population of approximately 10,000.

The notice has been imposed as a precautionary measure pending further investigation.

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