Storm Brian: Flooding fears for coastal areas as sandbags put out

Fear of flooding in Shannon region as water levels already rising and high tides forecast

Council workers and members of the Defence Forces prepare a snug dam, a portable dam that is pumped full of water, at the fishmarket area between Wolfe Tone Bridge and the Spanish Arch in Galway city ahead of storm Brian. Video: Joe O'Shaughnessy

 

Local authorities and business owners along the west coast and Shannon regions are preparing for expected flooding over the weekend as Storm brian passes over Ireland.

Sandbags are being put in place outside vulnerable properties in Co Cork and Co Galway as Met Éireann has warned of “huge Atlantic waves”.

The forecaster has issued an orange alert for high winds in southern and western coastal counties from Mayo to Wexford.

Winds gusting up to 130km/h are expected in counties Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway and Mayo.

A status yellow wind warning is in place for the rest of the country, with average speeds of 65km/h and gusts reaching 110km/h expected.

Flooding has affected local roads in the midlands overnight making conditions difficult for ESB Networks still attempting to reconnect customers cut off during ex-hurricane Ophelia.

The national weather forecaster also issued a gale warning for all Irish coastal areas as well as a rainfall warning for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford.

However, Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack said talk of a “weather bomb” was exaggerated.

She said people should stay away from coastal areas and warned of “huge Atlantic waves” affecting the west coast in particular.

Flooding overnight on Thursday and on Friday morning is already affecting local roads across counties Westmeath, Longford, Laois, Offaly.

Local authorities and fire brigades in the affected counties were working from first light to clear gullies and drains and there are reports of a man being hospitalised after coming into contact with a fallen electricity cable near Mountmellick, Co Laois.

Flooding risk

Water levels in the Shannon are rising in the Callows south of Athlone and there is concern that high winds will combine with high tides in souther coastal counties later today to bring more flooding to areas of Cork and Kerry. Waterways Ireland are monitoring the situation.

Cork County Council has also warned of a potential tidal surge spurred on by high winds and heavy rainfall, which may result in flooding of coastal communities in Bantry, Clonakilty, Youghal and Midleton by Friday evening.

There is also a risk of flooding in low-lying parts of Cork City including Morrisson’s Island and south Terrace.

Brittany Ferries has cancelled this weekend’s sailings between Cork and France amid concerns over storm surges in Cork Harbour.

Meanwhile Cork Airport is operating as normal but marketing manager, Kevin Cullinne confirmed that airport management are monitoring the changing weather situation on an hourly basis.

“At the moment everything is operating as normal but we would advise any intending travellers to check with their airline - the greatest challenge looks like being from 3am to 9am on Saturday morning when Storm Brian will be at its strongest.”

Lawrence Owens of the Cork Business Association urged business people in low-lying areas of the city centre to take necessary protections in terms of sandbagging and moving stock off the floor amid the risk of some flooding in the city centre.

Shannon Airport has advised passengers with flights over the weekend to check with their airline before travelling to the airport as a precautionary measure.

The communities in the Co Kerry towms of Glenbeigh, Incherea and Cromane Lower are tonight bracing themselves for five metre high tides.

Storm Brian as it makes its way across Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: windy.com
Storm Brian as it makes its way across Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: windy.com

The tides, combined with high rainfall, are expected to bring flooding to the low lying area off the Ring of Kerry, Rossbeigh based councillor Michael Cahill said.

“The worry here was not last Monday when there was no high tide but this weekend,” he said.

Defence works had been carried out in Incherea and have just been finished and a number of individuals had also built their own embankments in the hope of preventing the worst.

Some 16 houses were flooded in the area last year.

Sandbags were being filled and distributed and the 700 put in place last weekend were being left there, Cllr Cahill said.

Galway

In Galway, the city council has warned Storm Brian poses a “medium risk” of flooding in Galway city early on Saturday morning.

Higher tides than during ex-hurricane Ophelia may cause sea surges and consequent overtopping within “flood risk areas” of Galway city, including the Spanish Arch, Claddagh and Salthill.

Galway City Council says the tide surge forecast of up to 750mm will result in a total tide level of between 5.6m and 5.85m tomorrow morning, with the “medium” flood risk between 5am and 7.30am.

The local authority is deploying its boom at the Spanish Arch/Fishmarket, while the Army at Dún Uí Mhaolíosa barracks in Renmore is providing assistance, filling sandbags which are being dropped in the Claddagh/Grattan road/Salthill areas to protect vulnerable properties.

The local authority advised the public to exercise caution, and property owners within the flood risk areas to take precautions.

“Walkers along promenades and beaches are advised to exercise care and to avoid exposed areas when the wind is gusting,”the city council says, with possible spot-flooding and spray along the coast and along Salthill promenade from Blackrock, through Salthill and along Grattan Road.

Local authority staff and crews are “on alert” to deal with any weather issues as they arise, the council says.

Clare County Council has issued a warning to the public to avoid walking near the coast on Friday night and Saturday.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has closed all public parks for the duration of Storm Brian. The local authority will decide on Saturday evening if the public parks will be re-opened on Sunday.

Irish Rail said there will be delays of up to 30 minutes on several routes on Saturday due to speed restrictions put in place during the storm.

Routes affected by the delays will include the Cork, Waterford and Rosslare to Dublin journeys. Irish Rail have cancelled the Limerick Junction to Waterford route, and the Limerick to Ballybrophy via Nenagh train.

Power restored

Meanwhile, some 3,800 staff including workers from Northern Ireland and the UK are attempting to reconnect the remaining electricity customers out of power.

Customers can check their estimated reconnection time regarding their individual situation using the PowerCheck app or by logging onto powercheck.ie.

The National Emergency Coordination Group has said storm Brian is likely to impact on ESB work and may increase the current number of customers without power.

It said crews will almost certainly be stood down from work as the storm passes.

ESB Networks has restored power to 356,000 homes, farms and businesses since Monday.

The National Emergency Coordinating Group said 21 wastewater treatment plants and pump stations were still without power, affecting a population of 17,400.

Irish Water has made significant progress in getting drinking water back to those affected by Storm Ophelia.

From a peak of 109,000 customers without drinking water, this has now been reduced to 2,300. Eir has said 30,000 customers remain without broadband, telephone and mobile services.