‘Volunteers are fighting battles every day to keep water at bay’ - Taoiseach visits areas hit by Storm Frank
Published 31/12/2015 | 10:27
ENDA Kenny has visited some of the areas worst hit by Storm Frank as the clean-up continues.
“To see first-hand the scale of the flooding throughout the country … clearly the countryside is saturated, there are thousands of location affected”, he told reporters.
“There are significant problems in some urban areas, and there are problems in a number rural areas throughout the country where people are isolated.
“It is only right to pay tribute to the volunteers or organisations throughout the country, they're fighting heroic battles every day to keep the water at bay.
He said he is expecting reports from local authorities on how to ensure rural isolated areas do not become cut off in future weather events.
The Taoiseach was visiting areas of the countryside with Junior Minister Simon Harris, Minister Heather Humphries and Environment Minister Alan Kelly.
The bad weather is set to continue Met Eireann has warned - with heavy rainfall over the next three weeks set to add to the flooding and heartache affecting thousands of homeowners across the country.
Flood defences and emergency personnel will be pushed to breaking point as the country braces itself for another onslaught.
The aftermath of Storm Frank has left communities around the country without power, with many submerged in flood water and braced for worse to come.
This morning, there are approximately 3,000 premises without power - and some of these are likely to remain without power for a number of days due to flood waters and difficulties accessing the premises. Among the worst affected areas are Macroom and Fermoy, Brittas Bay and Arklow.
Met Éireann has a Status Yellow wind warning in operation this morning and warned of severe winds and gusts of up to 110km/h. That warning will continue until 2pm this afternoon.
The warning is in place for Wexford, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Waterford for several hours.
Gales are expected to hit 50 and 65 km/h and gust up to 95 or 110 km/h at times.
Thundery showers are also expected to hit many areas today with more heavy rains expected tomorrow and into Saturday.
Experts said that, even after the rain does eventually ease, river levels will continue to rise for some time. Rescue crews are said to be at the point of exhaustion as they continue to battle the elements and try to save homes and businesses.
"There is no real sign of an end to this wet, unsettled and windy weather," said Gerald Fleming of Met Éireann.
He added that the unsettled conditions will last well into the middle of next week, "and beyond". This would mean that flooding is likely to continue for weeks into January.
Emergency services said it was a miracle that nobody had been killed amid the devastation wreaked by the storm over the past few days.
The west coast felt the brunt of Storm Frank, but the east also fared badly - with transport across Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, only possible by boat.
The River Barrow and the Duiske stream burst their banks in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny. In Cork, the Defence Forces were deployed in Midleton to evacuate a housing estate, and Bandon suffered its second serious flood in less than a month.
Water levels in the Shannon catchment area have risen again - with the river at Shannon now more than 10cm above its December 16 peak.
Several Coalition ministers visited flood-hit areas yesterday but the Government has been on the back foot over the failure of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make any public appearance.
After days of pressure, Mr Kenny is finally set to visit areas devastated by the floods - with indications that he will visit areas affected in the midlands later today.
Meanwhile, the Tanaiste Joan Burton is set to visit people hit by the flooding in Kilkenny.
In terms of power outages, some of the worst affected areas were across the south and into the east of the country from Bandon and Macroom in Cork up to Enniscorthy in Wexford and on to Arklow in Wicklow.
"We can't restore power to a flooded premises," an esb networks spokeswoman said.
A large fault struck Fermoy, Co Cork, in the morning leaving about 1,200 people with no power.
ESB Networks said that after a series of winter storms swept in, over the last week its crews have restored supplies to 130,000 customers since December 27.
The National Coordination Group continues to meet in Dublin to oversee the work of several government departments and agencies, including emergency response and forecasting
Scores of roads are closed or affected by floods around the country with motorists urged to use AA Roadwatch for updates and for planning their journeys.
Parts of Cork remain on high alert for flooding as water levels remain exceptionally high on the rivers Lee, Blackwater, Funcheon, Bandon and Bridewell.
A massive clean up operation is now underway in the flood hit towns of Middleton, Bandon, and Glanmire.
Middleton trader Declan O'Connell stressed that the town needs help to recover from the worst floods in over thirty years.
"There have been about four floods here in my time operating Lee Travel, but this is the worst that I have ever seen. We have lost virtually everything in the shop", he told Independent.ie.
Clare County Council says that water levels on the Lower River Shannon at Springfield, Clonlara, reached the November 2009 peak level during Wednesday afternoon but have since receded by approximately 100mm (10cm).
The Council has received confirmation from the ESB of its decision to maintain the spill rate at Parteen Weir at 440 cubic metres per second (cumecs) during today
The Council says it is monitoring water levels at Springfield having regard to any potential increase in the spill rate at Parteen Weir and flood levels on the Mulkear River, which enters the River Shannon south of Annacotty.
Meanwhile at Ballycoree Bridge, Ballyalla, Ennis, the River Fergus has recorded its third highest flow rate on record. The flow rate on Thursday morning was 66.8 cumecs, which compares to 68.2 cumecs on December 13th 2015 and 79.9 cumecs in November 2009. The Council is continuing to monitor water levels countywide.
Limerick City and County Council says water levels on the Lower River Shannon at Castleconnell and Montpelier maintained the same levels overnight.
Council staff are continuing pumping operations in Castleconnell and Montpelier while flood defences are being maintained in flood prone locations along the river. The Council is also monitoring water levels on the Mulkear River, which enters the River Shannon downstream of Annacotty.