Saturday 25 November 2017

A torturous weekend of rain as floods reach 2009 levels

Sea kayakers in Bray Harbour in Co Wicklow. Photo:
Sea kayakers in Bray Harbour in Co Wicklow. Photo:
Gerry O’Leary from Ardrahan walks along the main Galway to Limerick road. Photo: Ray Ryan
A farmer making his way through the flooding in Clonlara, Co Clare. Picture Credit: Brian Gavin
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The country is facing into another torturous weekend of rain and flooding, as storms continue to batter several counties.

Flooding is now getting as bad as the extremes seen in 2009 in several parts of the country.

Incessant rain led to warnings of flash flooding and the threat of more families being evacuated from their homes.

Others were left without power amid high coastal winds and torrential rain.

Parts of Tipperary that have not flooded for more than 200 years were under water last night as rivers flowed down roads near Cahir and Clonmel.

Meanwhile, a road in Galway that had previously been used to divert traffic away from major floods was under water for the first time since 1995.

Met Éireann issued a Yellow Weather Warning for nine counties that will run on for at least part of today.

More than 35mm of rain is expected to fall nationwide with higher totals likely in mountainous areas.

Cork received some consolation with the news that the ESB would not be increasing the discharge of water through the Inniscarra Dam.

However, Limerick and Clare were concerned as the ESB announced it was increasing the flow of water through Parteen Weir to 470 cubic metres per second.

In 2009, this figure reached 500 cubic metres per second and had a devastating effect to homes and businesses downstream.

Now the ESB says that further increases are likely. This will raise the possibility of some of the worst-affected parts of the country being hit by more floodwater.

"The levels in Lough Derg may reach 2009 levels in the coming days and, as a result, the flow through Parteen Weir may increase to those levels," said a spokesperson for the ESB.

"This level of water flow will have increased associated flooding to land and property in the vicinity of the Shannon downstream of Parteen Weir including the areas of Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon, Annacotty and the University of Limerick."

It comes as the ESB looks to maintain the levels on Lough Derg, where a young horse was dramatically rescued by an RNLI lifeboat crew after it fell into the Shannon and was washed down into the lake.

The Army again maintained a presence in south Co Clare - where the flooding is so severe that it is impossible to identify where the banks of the River Shannon used to be.

Levels on the river increased further as rain poured down yesterday.

In Athlone the waters had increased by 2cm, leaving levels just 5cm off the record of 2009.

Banagher, Co Offaly, saw an increase of 10cm, while in Limerick they increased by 8cm.

The River Suir also rose yesterday and is likely to have a devastating effect on Clonmel, Co Tipperary, with storms predicted to rage for another three weeks.

More than 40 families there have been issued with precautionary evacuation notices with heavy rainfall expected to have a severe impact on parts of the town.

Residents at the Hughes Mill apartment complex were told to prepare for the worst as water is expected to rise on the River Suir over the weekend.

Local Councillor Andy Moloney said that anyone living there has been told by Tipperary County Council to be prepared to leave at any minute because of the Yellow Weather Warning.

"The water had receded but with the weather that is on the way in the next 48 hours it is likely that the water will get higher than it had been previously," he said.

"The river splits into two in the middle of the town and these apartments are located in the middle of that," he added.

"I think people clearing fields and ditches on the mountains is a huge issue because the water is making its way down into the rivers quicker and they cannot cope."

The ESB was working last night to restore power to almost 2,000 customers who were cut from their supply.

In Cork, more than 1,600 people on the north side of the city were without electricity yesterday.

Customers in Kerry, Mayo, Louth and Dublin were also affected by service faults.

The rain also had a severe effect on travel - with a huge number of road closures in areas worst affected.

Kilkenny County Council warned motorists of a high chance of flash flooding in the county today making driving conditions treacherous.

Meanwhile, a number of roads in Tipperary near Nenagh, Thurles and north as far as Westmeath remained closed last night.

In Galway, areas in the south of the county near Gort were again severely hit by stormy weather.

Towns and villages to the north of the county were also cut off, with local Fine Gael councillor Peter Keaveney saying Williamstown was flooded for the first time in 21 years.

"It was used as a detour during previous storms when the main roads were under water but it is cut off," he said.

"Locals are trying to find a way out through a quarry because the main road through the village is flooded," he added.

"Anywhere there is a basin in the land has been filled with water."

Irish Independent

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