Still no wet up: Locals brace themselves for latest deluge
Exhausted residents and property owners who have been battling floodwaters for more than a month can’t expect relief any time soon as the River Shannon reached 2009’s record levels.
Another 40mm of rain has been forecast for parts of the country today and water levels on the River Shannon have reached the same levels as the devastating 2009 floods.
And even communities with vaunted flood defences have been told to prepare for evacuation as the waters rise.
After the wettest December on record several areas are waiting for the floods to begin to recede so the clean-up can begin.
Already 200 homes around the country have been flooded and another 150 are believed to be at risk.
Members of the defence forces were drafted in this weekend, providing meals for volunteers and residents as well as filling sand-bags and moving equipment.
Among the worst affected have been residents in Clonlara, Co Clare, where they have been inundated since early December with more rain due to fall this week.
The view as the River Nore flooded Thomastown for a second time this week.
In Clonmel, the multi-million euro flood defence project is being tested to the limit as the River Suir almost breached the flood walls.
The Flood Response Interagency Group met yesterday morning and included representation from local county councils, the gardaí, Irish Water, the Defence Forces, Civil Defence and the HSE.
The ESB have also predicted that the Shannon river will rise again today.
Authorities have also warned ‘flood tourists’ to stay away from the affected areas where emergency services are working.
Met Éireann yesterday forecast heavy rain over the weekend and more unsettled weather until the middle of next week.
They issued a yellow alert for up to 40mm rainfall in Cork and Kerry until midnight tonight.
CLONLARA, Co CLARE
The pretty rural area had been under more than 3ft of water for the past 28 days – and counting.
Fifteen houses have been completely cut off from the outside world, with residents only able to leave their driveways with the aid of tractors and boats.
Exhausted and distraught homeowners have gone back to pumping out water in the last two or three days to keep back the tide from the River Shannon, which is normally a mile- and-a-half away.
Residents have been living in “life-threatening” conditions with ditches filled with up to 10ft of water, while raw sewage and slurry tanks have contaminated the water they are wading through.
Experts predicted it will take at least a week without rain for the flood water to recede.
At Enniscorthy Quay which is closed due to fresh flooding, retailers ready themselves for fresh flooding.
BANDON, Co CORK
After the floods of 2009, the towns-people of Bandon were told it was a freak event which would only happen every 100 years.
But the west Cork town has been swamped by two major floods in a month, leaving businesses utterly destroyed and under up to 3ft of water.
Devastated traders in the pretty town were left counting the cost again this week after the second major flood hit on Wednesday.
“They had just been cleaned out after the first flood when this hit again. There is a constant fear now. We’re on Code Orange again today,” said local councillor Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony.
“People just can’t carry on like this. Most of these people were flooded in 2009 and have no insurance.
“People are very, very angry – the flooding scheme that was promised after 2009 hasn’t been carried out. They feel abandoned.”
FERMOY, Co CORK
Fermoy is one of the few success stories of storm-hit December.
The Cork town was flooded year after year– but a new €38 million flood-defence system has kept the raging Blackwater River at bay.
Walls measuring up to 12ft now protect the perimeter of the town centre, with lower walls built at strategic points within its core, while demountable defence barriers can also be placed at both sides of the bridge.
Additionally, four pumping stations, three of them underground, were placed along the river in order to remove excess water.
As an added measure yesterday, extra flood defences were deployed in Fermoy and Mallow following rises of the Blackwater. And the town which was once devastated by river water has so far remained dry.
Meanwhile, residents in Co Kilkenny have been forced to leave their homes after eight inches of fresh rainfall in the last 24 hours.
As water levels abated from the first downpours, residents were able to return to their homes.
However, the new year weekend’s rainfall brought a new headache.
Homeowners in Inistioge, Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh abandoned their houses after water starting seeping through their homes following torrential rain on New Year’s Day.
Locals told the Sunday World the recent freak flooding is the worst they have witnessed since 1968.
Soldiers have been deployed in the Thomastown area with large troop-carrying vehicles helping stranded people to and from their homes.
Local councillor Michael Doyle said the community spirit remains high as devastated residents come to terms with the damage.
“All of the residents have emptied their homes,” Mr Doyle told the Sunday World last night.
“We could do with an end to the rain at this stage. People are very tired. There is only a certain amount we can take.
“Neighbours and B&Bs have been housing people affected by the floods. It’s real dirty water that is getting into houses.
“People were returning to their homes, but we are back to the start,” added Mr Doyle.
Locals are bracing themselves for more flooding
ATHLONE, Co WESTMEATH
In Athlone, water levels have risen to the mark of the 2009 flooding crisis.
Locals believe they have been better prepared, with only several houses evacuated compared to the 140 submerged six years ago.
However, communities on the Strand fear fatigue will set in.
“I guess reaching 2009 levels is what people feared the most,” local councillor Aengus O’Rourke told the Sunday World.
“We are also expecting the water levels to rise today. Exhaustion is starting to set in…you can see it written across people’s faces.
“If we could see some light at the end of the tunnel with a better forecast, that would give some hope to the community and increase the energy. But we don’t seem to have that,” he added.
There are 17 soldiers distributing sandbags in Athlone as well as providing hot food at meal times to residents of the Strand and Deerpark Road areas, which have been badly affected by the risen Shannon.
More than 30 stricken cattle barely keeping their heads above four feet of water were rescued yesterday in south Galway.
The south of the county has seen more than 30 homes deluged with flood water in areas including Ardrahan, Lavane, Peterswell and Gort since New Year’s Eve.
“There is no let-up. It has caused human hardship and human misery here” said Independent County Councillor Michael Fahy.
He said locals, the civil defence and the army were fighting yesterday to keep the water from flooding into three houses in Lavane while the fire brigade and the civil defence carried out a major effort to save a herd of cattle from drowning yesterday in Gort.
“A family just got their cattle out of a slated house. There was four feet under them inside and six feet outside and the civil defence and the fire brigade helped to get them out”, he said.
He said the only solution to the flood in south Galway is to open swallow holes to allow the water to flow out to the sea.
Flood barriers hold back the water in Clonmel. Photo by tipperaryphotos.com
CLONMEL, Co TIPPERARY
Meanwhile, mother nature will test the limits of a €40 million flood relief measure built two year’s ago in Clonmel.
Before the barriers were erected, the area was submerged underwater by any peak along the River Suir.
Large flood barriers and a moveable glass bridge over the river have shielded local residents and businesses’ from the floods in recent weeks.
However, with further rain predicted locals have a “sense of dread” the river will burst its banks.
“It is holding out at the moment, but it really is a testing time for the flood relief,” councillor Pat English told the Sunday World last night.
“The last three big floods have been devastating for the town, but we have been saved by the barriers this time.
“But the water is very high, breaking all previously levels, so it is the ultimate test. We’ve had six long weeks of rain, there is no end in sight,” he added.
In Wexford, the O’Byrne Cup semi-final game between Wexford and Dublin has been relocated from New Ross and is due to take place at St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy as a result of severe flooding.
The area has been inundated since before Christmas despite best efforts of local volunteers and emergency services.
Abbey Quay and Templeshannon Quay in Enniscorthy remain impassable and diversions are in place.
There are also reports of further flooding in Enniscorthy after the River Slaney burst its banks and locals were urged to exercise extreme caution in the area and use alternative routes if possible.