Sunday 28 May 2017

Rainfall warning to remain in place until 8pm

Farmer Michael Macken with bales of hay he tied together to prevent them from floating on River Shannon floodwaters at Carrickobrien near Athlone. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
Farmer Michael Macken with bales of hay he tied together to prevent them from floating on River Shannon floodwaters at Carrickobrien near Athlone. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.

Denise Calnan and Niall O'Connor

A fresh weather warning is in place until 8pm tonight amid more wet and windy weather.

Met Eireann last night issued a 'status yellow' rainfall alert as up to 30mm of rain is expected today.

The status will remain in place for the south, west and eastern coastal areas until 8pm this evening.

Forecaster Gerald Fleming said several areas face the prospect of heavy and prolonged spells of rain over the next six or seven days.

He said that areas in the south and south west of the country - including Wexford, South Kilkenny, Waterford, South Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Galway - are most at risk.

According to the forecaster, these areas face the prospect of flooding depending on the events in the coming days.

Liz Hogan with two of her children, Aoife and Mark, and the Civil Defence in East Clare
Liz Hogan with two of her children, Aoife and Mark, and the Civil Defence in East Clare

“A number of those rain events have the potentially to turn nasty. And potentially they could cause flooding in areas which have had no flooding so far if that were to happen,” he said, adding that this is a “very small probability”.

Although the rain is to turn more showery later today, further spells of heavy rain and onshore winds will affect southern counties through the evening and early tonight.

Corbally in Limerick is flooded
Corbally in Limerick is flooded

The weather warning comes as hundreds of homes remain threatened by floods in the Shannon area.

Water levels are reported to be receding in the upper Shannon area, but levels are still rising in the middle and lower areas of the River Shannon.

Aoife McNamara surveying the flooding at Clonlara, Co Clare
Aoife McNamara surveying the flooding at Clonlara, Co Clare

Speaking to Newstalk's Breakfast, Clare County Council senior engineer Paul Moroney told Newstalk's Breakfast that there are still houses at risk of flooding in south-east Clare.

"The water levels have gone back a bit as a result of the Mulcair River going down but we are aware the risk is still there.

Emergency workers recover a car in Corbally in Limerick
Emergency workers recover a car in Corbally in Limerick

"There are a number of houses at risk of flooding and a number of houses which have flooded.

"We are sandbagging and carrying out pumping operations in the whole of the area,

"Also, on top of that, we're carrying out operations to bring supplies into houses, some of which were flooded, some of which were cut off but not flooded and we're maintaining all those operations.

"We're making sure that people have access to their houses.

"It is a very traumatic incident for anybody," Mr Moroney continued.

"But these people are very resilient.

"We've pulled out all the stops and we've done everything we can to help them."

One Limerick woman said her family's "lives are at risk" after floodwaters have forced them from their homes for the second time in just six years.

Geraldine Quinlivan lives a mile and a half from the River Shannon but was forced to request life jackets from emergency services after flood waters rushed into her home.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Drivetime, Geraldine described the situation as 'frightening'.

"We returned to the house in a boat. You couldn't make it up," she said.

"We had to source life jackets from Limerick Search and Rescue, you couldn't make it up.

"I'm back at home. It's less stressful because at least I know the boys and Joe are safe.

"When I wasn't at home and they weren't answering the phone I was thinking 'oh my God, are they dead at home'.

"The water is going down and we welcome any inch it goes down. The amount of water on the road is just frightening.

"This should never be allowed happen us again, it's just not right."

Geraldine said the family, from Clonlara, Limerick will not put up a Christmas tree this year as a mark of respect to her brother whose home has been destroyed in the flood.

"We experienced this in 2009, but it wasn't this bad.

"At that stage my mother had mobility issues. Imagine the indignity as a woman in her late seventies was brought out of her home on the back of a low-loader in her wheelchair because nothing else could go in for her.

"We are all just exhausted. This has to be sorted. Our lives are at risk down here at the minute, this is twice now in six years.

"I don't live on a flood plain. I live a mile and a half from the River Shannon.

"We're not thinking about Christmas," she continued.

"We won't be putting up a Christmas tree out of respect to my brother and his wife and sons who are homeless at the moment due to the flooding.

"I couldn't put one up knowing they're not with us, as in living next door to us."

Geraldine said the community are laying the blame at the door of the various Government agencies in charge of maintaining the River Shannon.

"We are laying the blame firmly and squarely at the door of various Government agencies responsible for the running of the river.

"We identified a solution to the problem back in 2006 and it has fallen on deaf ears.

"We need to clear the blockage on the river, it's all vegetation, islands, you name it."

Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works (OPW) told reporters after yesterday's National Emergency Coordination Group that water levels in the lower Shannon catchment, in between Limerick City and Lough Derg, will peak on Monday.

He said that a similar situation is expected in the mid catchment area up at Athlone, but that levels may take longer to peak. There has also been a rise in the Brosna river at Ferbane in Offaly.

“I would stress again we are still on a severe flood situation on Shannon catchment.” Mr Casey said.

Chairman of the National Emergency Coordination Group, John Barry, said that there are still situations of concern in Athlone and in the lower Shannon. He said that rising water levels caused flooding in the Corbally area of Limerick.

“While there has been significant effects in areas affected though, and while there is disruption in roads and railways in places, life in most of the country is continuing as normal,” Mr Barry said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment is today considering the cost submissions made by local councils involved in the clean up. A memo being devised by Environment Minister Alan Kelly is due to go to Cabinet today.

The Department of Social Protection confirmed that it has to date received around 100 requests for humanitarian assistance. While the Red Cross has been contacted by a similar number in relation to emergency assistance for businesses, no applications have yet been made.

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