Saturday 16 December 2017

'Now it's a waiting game ...' Residents know the power of river all too well

George Lee looking at the River Level in Castleconnell
George Lee looking at the River Level in Castleconnell

Kathryn Hayes

Residents in Limerick's Castleconnnell are not immune to flooding incidents, with the devastation caused in the 2009 floods acting as a stark reminder of the power of the river which flows through the village.

Businessman George Lee whose family have run the shop on the Main Street since 1946 says efforts to prevent flood damage are being replicated in towns and villages along the Shannon.

"My own opinion is every community on the river will be trying to veer the water away from their own locality and we have to look at our weakness in the fortress and we have to look at how best we can improve our situation using 2009 as a baseline," he said.

"The council and the army have been billeted here for the last three days building up the defence and now it's simply a waiting game... There's an alluvial wave coming down and that's bringing a rise down from the midlands," he added,

For three days, business and residents have been preparing for the worst as the ESB indicated that further water was going to be released from Parteen Weir to ease the pressure further upstream caused by Storm Desmond.

Over 2,500 residents live in the picturesque village located about 14km from Limerick city.

It's hoped the thousands of sandbags distributed by Limerick City and County Council will protect it and the others areas which are still most at risk, including Montpelier and the Mountshannon Road in Lisnagry.

Several pumps have been in operation, pumping water between the villages of Castleconnell and Montpelier.

Mr Lee called for a review of the way in which the release rate at Parteen Weir is managed by the ESB,

"My own opinion is the ESB are going to have to look at the way they set up their flood gates at Parteen weir from October to February/March when the flooding abates," he said.

Vincent Murray, Senior Engineer at Limerick City and County Council, said the increased discharge rate is necessary and described it as a difficult job for the ESB.

"It is necessary for the ESB need to release this water so that they can control flood levels up the country and obviously minimising the impact on towns that are flooding at present," he explained.

"Athlone and Ballinasloe would be two that come to mind that I know are currently suffering from some flooding.

"If the ESB don't release water obviously the situation in those towns will get worse and they have to balance that against the potential flooding it will cause down stream so they have a difficult job to do."

Irish Independent

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