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Saturday 23 August 2014

River Shannon at high risk of bursting banks in coming days

Paul Melia

Published 05/02/2014 | 12:58

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1/2/14
Resident of Saint Marys Park, Limerick being transported by boat and the army after the River Shannon burst its banks in Limerick City in another wave of storms to hit the city. Pic Sean Curtin.
Resident of Saint Marys Park, Limerick being transported by boat and the army after the River Shannon burst its banks in Limerick City in another wave of storms to hit the city. Pic Sean Curtin.
1/2/14
The river Shannon burst its banks in Limerick City in another wave of storms to hit the city. Pic Sean Curtin.
1/2/14 The river Shannon burst its banks in Limerick City in another wave of storms to hit the city. Pic Sean Curtin.
Flooded land around the Shannon river as far as the eye can see near Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
Picture: Hany Marzouk
Flooded land around the Shannon river as far as the eye can see near Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

MAJOR rivers including the Shannon are at risk of bursting their banks as bad weather looks set to continue over the coming days.

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The Government's emergency response task force says the threat of coastal flooding has largely subsided, but that major concerns remain about the risk of river flooding.

Wet and windy weather since December had resulted in moisture levels in soil building up, with drains becoming congested.

Unrelenting rain had resulted in swollen rivers, many of which now threatened to overspill their banks.

"It has been raining, pretty much for the last two months, and while the threat of coastal flooding has subsided, we are concerned about further threats that exist," chairman of the National Emergency Coordination Group, Sean Hogan, said this morning.

"There's a bigger threat emerging in terms of the rivers."

The Office of Public Works said the Shannon, which runs through more than 10 counties, was a "particular source of concern" but that all river catchments including the Lee were being closely monitored.

"It's always on our radar," the spokesman said. "All the main catchments are being looked at closely. In a general sense, we're keeping a close eye on the situation."

He added that the weather and flooding were "on a par" with the flooding of 2009 which caused devastation across large parts of the country.

Met Eireann warned that the weather was unlikely to change over the coming days.

"If we look at what's happened in the last two months, when the weather started to get windy and wet, we've had a very wet and windy period," forecaster Gerard Fleming said.

"The storms have coincided with very high tides. Winds blowing onshore, which we call a storm surge, coupled with high tides has resulted in  a lot of water.

"Rivers have become very high in the last couple of months. The OPW and local authorities tell us the rivers are very high, and we do foresee very little change in the next few days"

Meanwhile, the current storm conditions continue to impact the Eircom network with 10,000 reported faults.

With further bad weather predicted, the service anticipates up to an additional 10,000 faults on their network in the coming days.

Both broadband and telephone services have been impacted and up to 2,000 faults are being repaired daily.

The storm damage has affected the service in most of the country with particular high fault volumes in Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Tipperary, Wexford and Limerick.

Eircom said they currently have 700 crews working nationwide.

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