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Saturday 21 April 2018

Flood-hit areas brace for yet more damage with rain and gale force winds expected to lash the country tomorrow

Elderly victim of Storm Desmond named as Irish showband singer Ivan Vaughan

Garry Fitzgerald and Jonathan Fitzgerald from Blennerville battle to keep the water out of St Pat’s GAA Club
Garry Fitzgerald and Jonathan Fitzgerald from Blennerville battle to keep the water out of St Pat’s GAA Club
Ivan Vaughan died after he was swept away as he attempted to leave his car in a flood.
The sea pounds Salthill in Galway
Winds drive waves over the wall on the coast road in Westport, Co Mayo
A seal reclines on the footpath opposite the cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo, after being forced out of the water due to Storm Desmond
uzanne Gibbons with a donkey after it was rescued from a flooded field in Killorglin, Co Kerry
Denny Murphy holds the flag where the hole should be on the first green on the Killeen Course at Killarney Golf Club
Severe flooding around Strabane, Co Tyrone
The 2nd army battalion works in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, to hold back rapidly rising waters in the wake of Storm Desmond

Ralph Riegel, Emma Jane Hade, Niall O'Connor and Louise Kelly

Flood-hit communities are bracing themselves for yet more damage with rain and gale force winds expected to lash the country tomorrow.

A rainfall warning is in place for Connacht, Donegal, Clare and Kerry, as 20-35 millimetres of additional rain is expected tomorrow.

As the clean-up from the record-breaking storm Desmond continues, Limerick, Clare and parts of the Shannon basin are again on high flood alert.

The flood threat has been complicated by necessary release of water by the ESB from below Parteen Weir.

Ivan Vaughan as singer Simon Scott in the 1960s
Ivan Vaughan as singer Simon Scott in the 1960s
Ivan Vaughan, aka Simon Scott Credit:
Ivan Vaughan (on the right) with The Plattermen

Over 2,000 sandbags have been distributed by Limerick City and County Council. Areas at most risk include Castleconnel, Montpelier and the Mountshannon Road in Lisnagry, as water levels on the Shannon continue to rise.

Seven pumps were in operation this evening pumping water between the villages of Castleconnell and Montpelier.

A flood boom, which is a large inflatable wall, was also being used in Casteconnell to channel the water away from the village.

This morning the ESB increased the release rate of water from Parteen weir to 375,000 litres a second, with a further increase rate expected tomorrow.

The normal rate of water released from Parteen weir at this time of year is 40,000 litres per second.

In the summer the rate is as low as 10,000 litres per second.

"The likelihood is that the rate will will increase tomorrow when it could exceed 400,000 litres per second. This is not a very common occurrence; it would have exceeded that in 2009. It happens once every couple of years," explained Vincent Murray, Senior Engineer, Limerick City and County Council.

"The rain that fell in Leitrim and up that end of the country is only coming down to us now so we are getting the brunt of that here and it is raining on top of that.  The  next two to three days is therefore crucial as this water will spill into the Shannon, come down Lough Derg over Parteen Weir and into Limerick," he added.

Clare County Council is also anticipating further flooding of land, roads and potentially property along the banks of the Lower River Shannon in the Springfield area of Clonlara in southeast Clare.

Both Limerick and Clare local authorities are warning that floodwaters are likely to increase further during the next two days and that they are continuing to liaise with the ESB, An Garda Síochána and local property owners in the affected areas.

Three areas along the River Shannon considered at high risk of further flooding this week will have emergency drinking water collection points established by the Irish Red Cross.

A conference call today involving by National Director of Units Tony Lawlor provided a status update on weather-affected communities after Storm Desmond hit the country on Saturday causing severe flooding in parts of the South and West.

Following the call Irish Red Cross Head Office contacted the Westmeath, Galway and Limerick local authorities to offer auxiliary support in the event of further flooding in their environs.

Head Office also secured the generous support of Tipperary Water for the pre-positioning of bottled water in three towns on the Shannon considered at highest risk of flooding.

National Director of Health and Social Care, Aiden Lonergan will allocate the consignment and local Red Cross Units will arrange collection and transport.

“This stock is agreed as an interim, emergency resource especially for isolated homes affected by drinking water loss, infirm householders or those with no transport. Distribution will take place tomorrow and Thursday,” Mr Lawlor said.

Irish Red Cross uniformed officers from Dublin Mid-Leinster and Dublin North East attended a Major Emergency Management (MEM) meeting today at the Phoenix Park.

Based on meteorological, local authority and HSE MEM briefings, it is understood that due to the timing of flood patterns on the Shannon that Athlone, Portumna and the Montpelier area of County Limerick are at risk of further flooding.

Athlone: The Red Cross in Athlone is providing assistance by way of flood mitigation equipment to some householders already affected or at risk. A quantity of bottled water is being pre-positioned there. Contact with Council officials and members has been initiated. A four-wheel drive ambulance from Laois Red Cross is being temporarily relocated to the Westmeath town.

Portumna: A quantity of bottled water has been set aside for use in Portumna, and regional and Area Officers are pre-alerting members.

Limerick: The areas now considered most at risk are rural. Bottled water is being pre-positioned. The Limerick Red Cross organisation is pre-alerted and communication with the local authority is ongoing.

“Regular communications continue with the NDU, NDHSC, and Head Office to coordinate staff and volunteers in continuing to provide practical supports to communities adversely affected by Storm Desmond,” Mr Lawlor said.

Regional Directors of Units and the National Director of Units continue to dialogue with the HSE MEM officers in the two regions affected by Storm Desmond.

Flooding advice is available on Information included on the website includes advice on identifying flooding risks, protecting property against flooding, necessary steps to be taken if a property is flooded and accessing and repairing property damaged.

Flooding is now also expected in the environs of Cork city as the ESB confirmed increased discharges from both the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid reservoirs.

Meanwhile the first victim of Storm Desmond was named last night as Ivan Vaughan (70) from Caledon, Co Tyrone.

Mr Vaughan was a showband singer with a band called the Plattermen, and performed under the stage name Simon Scott.

The elderly musician was reportedly playing more concerts as a one-man band of late.

He is understood to have been travelling home from a gig in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, on Sunday night when his car became stuck in floods. It is believed that Mr Vaughan was swept away as he attempted to leave his car.

Locals have said that he was a "great singer" and a "great performer" and that he will be sadly missed in the area.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said he was saddened by the singer's death.

"Ivan was well known in music circles for over four decades," he said.

"He played in many of the leading showbands in the 60s and 70s and was a hugely popular and highly respected figure.

"He went under the stage name of Simon Scott and was especially well known in the Cookstown and Dungannon areas where he was extremely popular.

"He moved to Caledon in recent years and was held in the highest esteem by everyone who knew him and I extend our deepest sympathies to the entire family circle at this tragic time."

Homeowners and business people in the south, west and north of the country are already counting the cost of the most destructive storm so far this winter.

Details emerged last night of the Government's flood package, which will include an initial €5m for emergency flood works and the allocation of funds from the Department of Social Protection for hardship payments.

For farmers, restrictions on the movement of cattle and other livestock from flooded land have been lifted. This followed a meeting between the IFA and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

Also included in the package is the dispensation of funds from the Office of Public Works (OPW) which will allow councils to claim up to €500,000 for flood works.

"This situation is unfolding so the €5m in emergency funding is just an initial amount," said a Government source. A memo is set to go to Cabinet this morning from OPW minister Simon Harris which will outline the scale of the damage.

Irish Independent

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