Midlands braces for more floods as 110kph gales hit
Homeowners are keeping an anxious watch in flood-hit areas, as gale-force winds once again sweep along coastlines.
Rail travel has been disrupted and householders are living on a knife-edge in some towns along the lower Shannon area as high levels of rainfall and strong winds have left floodwaters just inches from entering homes.
It comes as Met Eireann warned winds would reach speeds of up to 110kph from Wexford to Louth, along the southern coasts and across Galway, Mayo and Donegal.
Forecasters moved to issue a 'yellow' warning for extra care to be taken in exposed areas, while fishermen are once again preparing to be buffeted with an 'orange' warning foretelling of gales reaching storm force at sea.
As floodwaters recede in parts of the country, the nightmare is continuing for those along the midlands, particularly in low-lying flood-prone areas vulnerable to the rising waters of the River Shannon.
Sandbags and heavy-duty pumps have been deployed by Athlone Town Council to stave off the water levels that have been rising slowly over the past 10 days in the Shannon catchment area.
So far, houses have not been flooded but residents in the Park area of the town, south of the Shannon Bridge, fear they may once again be hit after extensive damage was caused in 2009.
Resident John Stroud (47) told how he has been keeping an anxious watch, along with his wife and two children, for the past five weeks as their garden filled with floodwaters contaminated with sewage waste.
Yet, their fears mounted on Friday as floodwaters from the nearby canal, filled by the River Shannon, began to rise.
"By Saturday morning it was right around the house. It was about two inches from the front and back door," he said.
Athlone town mayor Gabrielle McFadden estimated the waters were inches away from flooding properties. She pointed out the situation was under control but that an emergency response was in place.
Elsewhere in the midlands, floodwater has halted rail travel on the line between Dromod and Carrick-on-Shannon for the past week.
Floodwaters at Ballycar, near Newmarket-on-Fergus, have resulted in the closure of the Limerick to Ennis rail line.
Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke warned heavy rain and blustery winds reaching up to 110kph could be expected overnight, with severe gusts continuing throughout today.
"It will be quite blustery but not as severe as the worst we have had," he said.
"There will be still more wet and windy weather to come Wednesday and Thursday."