Battle to protect homes as waste flows in the streets
Raw sewage flowed through the streets of Athlone yesterday as water levels continued to rise.
One man described how he pumped up to 500 litres of raw sewage from his garden after it seeped up from a manhole in his patio on Wednesday evening.
The remnants of waste and toilet paper littered the Strand area of Athlone town yesterday morning as locals continued to work on flood defences. Several pumps are stationed around the town while thousands of sandbags line doorways and garden gates.
Westmeath County Council has activated its Flood Emergency Response in recent days and a meeting of the Interagency Response Committee is held each day at 11am.
In a statement, the council said agencies "would continue to assist people to protect their homes and businesses, to provide transport where this is required and to provide other humanitarian assistance".
Irish Water advised the council that there was no issue with the quality of water supplied through the public system at the present time.
Water levels in the River Shannon are continuing to rise slowly and are being monitored by the council. Worryingly, the levels are expected to rise substantially over the weekend.
"The council is in receipt of an ESB forecast of river levels for the next four days and it is expected that water levels will reach 39.60mOD by Monday 14th of December 2015. It should be noted that this represents an increase of 310mm above current levels and would be close to the maximum level recorded in 2009," the council said.
Independent Alliance councillor Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said the community was doing everything they could to protect their homes.
"We have all our defences in place and both the council and locals are continuing to work hard," he said.
"I am worried about the threat of sewage on the streets and I'm worried about the strength of walls that back onto Parnell Square."