Monday 19 February 2018

Status yellow rainfall warning: Storm-weary householders face torrential rain over next 24 hours

Demands for extra Red Cross flood aid

A swan swims past a flooded house in Carrickobreen in Athlone Photo: Steve Humphreys
A swan swims past a flooded house in Carrickobreen in Athlone Photo: Steve Humphreys
Fermoy to Ballyduff Road, R666-44 Credit: An Garda Siochana
Fermoy to Ballyduff Road, R666-44 Credit: An Garda Siochana
Fermoy to Ballyduff Road, R666-44 Credit: An Garda Siochana

Ralph Riegel and Niall O'Connor

STORM-WEARY Irish householders and traders are bracing themselves for further damaging weather today with many areas remaining on high alert for flooding.

Residents in south Leinster and south Munster are expecting heavy rainfall.

Met Eireann has issued a status yellow rainfall warning for Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford.

Some 25 to 35 millimetres are expected today and overnight, with possibly higher amounts on mountains.

The yellow warning came into effect at 9am today and will last 24 hours.

The adverse weather conditions has resulted in a landslide in Co Cork, leading to the closure of a main regional road.

The Fermoy to Ballyduff Road R666-44 at Ballynalacken/Kilmurry South will be closed until middle of next week.

Irish Water has issued a boil water notice on the Whitegate Regional Water Supply Scheme on the advice of the HSE due to high turbidity in the Dower spring source serving this area of east Cork. 

This public water supply serves a population of approximately 10,000 and the boil water notice has been imposed as a precautionary measure pending further investigation in the interest of public health.

All customers in these areas are advised to boil all water for drinking, food preparation, brushing of teeth and making of ice until further notice.

Water can be used as normal personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets.

Areas affected by this notice are: Midleton South East, Ballynacorra, Cloyne, Aghada, Whitegate, Ballycotton, Churchstown, Trabolgan and surrounding rural areas.

Ireland said farewell to 2015 with the prospect of a seventh Atlantic storm of the season crashing into the west and south-west as traders urged the Government to quadruple the €5m Irish Red Cross flood aid scheme.

Business groups pointed out the fund was established to support flood-hit communities after Storm Desmond struck on December 5.

However, the damage inflicted by Storm Frank over the past 48 hours is an entire magnitude greater with previously unaffected areas of Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wicklow, Wexford, Dublin, Laois and Offaly now counting the cost of flood damage.

The repair bill in those areas is now expected to run to millions of euro.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who visited the town of Midleton in Cork, said the support fund urgently needs to be increased.

The potential threat posed by the looming Storm Gertrude, yet to be categorised, is exacerbated by the fact Irish rivers are already swollen and flood planes are totally saturated.

Met Eireann's Joan Blackburn said Ireland can expect yet more heavy rainfall.

"We forecast for about a week ahead and there is really no great change with spells of rain and strong winds at times," she said.

The warning came as it emerged that an elderly citizen was evacuated from their home in Kilkenny after being trapped by flood waters.

“Just this morning, our unit in Kilkenny, Stephen‘s Barrack’s, have been involved in an evacuation of an elderly citizen from a private residence,” said Rosanna White of the Defence Forces.

The National Coordination Group again met today as the clean-up operation continues.

Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works (OPW) said the country remains in a severe flood situation.

He added that the Shannon river around Athlone could reach levels which have not been seen since 2009.

The Group also confirmed that a number of residents in Clonmel in Tipperary have been warned that their homes are at risk of flooding. 


Forecaster Gerald Fleming said December has been the wettest month on record with Cork receiving three times the normal level of rainfall.

Some 193mm fell in Dublin this month - compared to the average of 73mm.

At Markree Castle in Sligo, 292mm of rainfall was recorded compared to the 126mm average.

"On almost all of our stations, it's been the wettest December on record," Mr Fleming said.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said all levels in the Shannon catchment have risen over the last 48 hours.

Galway City Council's Brendan McGrath said there are "slight improvements" in some areas but warned that roads remain treacherous.

Massive flood clean-up operations swung into gear in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin.

However, some areas including parts of the Shannon, Lee, Blackwater, Suir and Nore river basins remain on high alert for flooding given the prospect of further heavy rainfall over the next 72 hours.

In Cork, the clean-up and repair operation was hampered by lightning strikes which, for a time, forced ESB repair crews to suspend work.

Cork suffered a major power black-out due to one lightning strike.

ESB spokesperson Bernadine Maloney said everything possible was being done to restore power to homes before New Year's Eve.

"We had about 1,700 people without power after Storm Frank and the worst hit places were Macroom, Bandon, Enniscorthy, Wellington Bridge, Kilmore, Bridgetown, Arklow and Brittas Bay."

"The main reason for the non-restoration for those areas was due to widespread flooding," she said.

The ESB also maintained water discharges from Parteen Weir on the River Shannon and Inniscarra Dam on the River Lee amid warnings releases may have to be increased if there is a continued build-up of water levels on Lough Derg and the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid reservoirs.

However, Clare homeowners received a glimmer of hope with the confirmation that, having exceeded record 2009 water levels on Wednesday afternoon, the Shannon at Springfield, Clonlara had receded by 10cm.

The River Fergus at Ballycoree Bridge in Clare recorded its third highest flow rate in history.

Clare Co Council said it remains on maximum flood alert.

Telecoms company, Eir, reported 10,000 faults on its network with the number expected to rise over the coming days.

Army troops deployed

The Army has deployed troops to several locations throughout the day supporting local authorities and communities in their flood relief efforts.

Troops and vehicles have deployed as follows:

Cork: Transportation to facilitate access at Carraigrohane Straight.

Clare: Transportation and Water Pumps in Clonlara.

Galway: Troops and transport for sandbag filling and distribution in Gort.

Kilkenny: Troops and transportation for sandbag filling and distribution in Callan.

Westmeath: Preparation and delivery of meals to workers manning pumps overnight and during the day in Deerpark Road and The Strand in Athlone.

Westmeath: Troops and transportation for sandbag filling and distribution in Athlone.

Troops remain on standby in barracks throughout the country to deploy on request from local authorities.

Irish Independent

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