Wednesday 29 March 2017

Floods: Thousands stranded as a month's rain falls in just one day

Kevin Keane

THE country is today counting the cost of torrential rainfall which brought widespread chaos and destruction overnight.

One man was feared dead after being swept away by a swollen river, as a major emergency was declared in the Dublin region. Heads of the emergency services were summoned to a crisis meeting late last night after a month's worth of rain fell in just one day.

Met Eireann said that the rainfall set a new record for a single 24-hour period during the month of October, and came close to setting an all-time record.

Motorists were left stranded in their cars and gardai appealed to people not to travel unless absolutely necessary due to the treacherous conditions.

Tens of thousands of people experienced long delays as they tried to make their way home along partially submerged roads, after many commuter services were cancelled.

Business and homes across the country will be counting the massive cost of flood damage and clean-up this morning.

SANDBAGS

Sandbags were deployed in coastal regions as there were fears a late high tide would penetrate low-lying areas.

The fire brigade and coastguard were inundated with calls from distressed homeowners and commuters.

The deluge appeared to claim its first victim when an off-duty garda was swept away at the Ballysmuttan Bridge on the River Liffey between Manor Kilbride and Kippure, close to the Sally Gap in Co Wicklow.

Members of the Glen of Imaal and Dublin-Wicklow mountain rescue teams were at the scene last night in a bid to locate the man.

Numerous routes in and out of Dublin city centre became impassable while the country's largest shopping centre was evacuated due to flooding. Stunned shoppers reported torrents of water flowing through the corridors, stairwells and car parks of Dundrum Town Centre.

Irish Rail was forced to cancel all DART services, the Luas Red Line was hit, and two of the country's busiest motorways were impassable for a time.

The heavy rain also caused delays to flights in and out of Dublin airport.

Only a handful of flights made it into the airport after 9pm as conditions deteriorated rapidly. Shannon Airport was inundated with dozens of these unscheduled flights, some of which had spent time circling over the Irish Sea.

Meteorologist Jean Byrne warned that there is more rain to come today. "It is easing off already, but unfortunately there is another region of rain just off the south and southeast coasts and will push northwards.

"It looks as if Dublin is in line for more rain and heavy showers.

"Yesterday's rain was just incessant so it doesn't look quite as bad. It looks like we'll get some heavy pulses -- but it doesn't look like we'll get that unrelenting rain for hours and hours."

She said that there had been about a month's worth of rainfall in some parts of the country over the space of one day.

"Since midnight on Sunday there's been 101.5mm in Casement aerodrome and in Dublin airport there's been 89mm."

Thousands of commuters were stranded or delayed by the horrendous conditions.

Sligo Intercity and Maynooth Commuter services were stopped, while the Belfast Enterprise and Northern Commuter services were also suspended due to flooding at Clontarf.

Luas Red Line services were cancelled for a time between Sagart and Belgard.

The country's busiest motorway -- the M50 -- was closed for a time while the N7 Dublin to Limerick road became impassable in both directions near Castlewarden. The army was called out to help tow stranded cars out of floodwaters on the N7 near Citywest.

In Co Wicklow, treacherous conditions caused the N11 to be reduced to just one lane near Kilmacanogue, while the Wicklow Gap was closed. In Co Louth the Dunleer-Collon road was impassable at Kirwan's Cross while in Co Meath the Ratoath to Dunshaughlin road was also flooded.

Problems were also reported around Tramore in Waterford while in Kerry, the Slea Head Road was closed at Cumeenole Beach because of massive landslides.

Met Eireann said that the worst of the torrential rain is gone for now -- but it warned that more wet weather will return next weekend.

Irish Independent

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