Major disruption caused by widespread flooding

 

A major clean-up operation is underway around the country after heavy rain caused severe flooding in many counties.

The south and east of the country were the worst affected, resulting in a number of road closures and travel disruptions.

Drivers in Cork and Galway are being advised to postpone all journeys after some of the most intense and sustained rainfall in 30 years caused widespread flooding in the south and west.

The Defence Forces have deployed 175 troops, 24 vehicles, and 4 flat bottomed boats around the country in Cork city, Bantry, Clonakilty, Clonmel, Ennis,
Ballinasloe and, most recently, to Carlow Town. Over 10,000 sandbags have been rolld out by troops and 300 extra soliders are on stand-by at barracks throughout Ireland.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen tonight said providing shelter and safe drinking water for flood victims was a priority for Government. He also assured homeowners that the State's emergency response will continue for as long as needed.

Cork city has suffered extensive flooding with the Mardyke area on the western side of the city worst hit as the River Lee has burst its banks.

The quay wall near the Mercy Hospital collapsed in the early hours of the morning causing serious flooding. Patients and staff in the hospital had to be moved to more secure parts of the building. Its accident and emergency unit has been closed.

Large areas of the western side of the city are seriously flooded including the Water Treatment Plant on the Lee Road. As a result, Cork City Council cannot treat water and about 40 per cent of the city has experienced supply disruption. The Council said this figure is expected to increase as the day progresses and the available treated water in the reservoirs is consumed.

Arrangements have been made for tankers to supply emergency drinking water to a number of locations across the city, including Ballyvolane shopping centre, Blackpool shopping centre, Hollyhill shopping centre, St Mary’s Orthopedic hospital and Nemo Rangers GAA club.

Gardaí said the only access in and out of the Cork city centre is via Patrick Street, but this may close shortly. Motorists are advised to avoid the Lee Road, Carrigrohane Road and Sunday Well Road. Bridges from Inniscarra to Wellington Bridge are closed in the city and motorists are advised to avoid Western Road, Washington Street, Wandesford Quay and North Main Street in the city.

University College Cork has cancelled all lectures because of flooding in various buildings on the campus. Lectures at the university will be postponed until Monday November 30th as a result.

Some 14 buildings, including the newly-opened Western Gateway building on the Western Road, the Tyndall National Institute, student accommodation, the Mardyke Arena sports complex and the Glucksman Gallery, were badly affected by the flooding.

High tide in the city passed at 7.30am but the problems are being caused by the volume of water passing through the ESB's Inniscarra dam. As a result, large volumes of water are being released downstream from the dam according to the ESB.

In Co Cork, parts of Fermoy reported to be under several feet of water after the River Blackwater burst its banks. Fermoy Bridge is reported to be impassable.

West Cork has been particularly badly hit with the town of Bandon flooded. The N71 Cork to Bantry road is impassable through Skibbereen and Inishannon.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley travelled down to the county tonight to see first hand the damage caused by the unprecedented flooding

In Co Galway, the River Suck burst its banks leading to flooding in Ballinasloe with gardaí advising all motorists to avoid the town. The N6 is also expected to be shut for a number of days due to flooding at Craughwell.

A boil water notice was issued in Ballinasloe due to concerns about floodwater contaminating the reservoir.

A family of five, including an 87-year-old woman, were airlifted to safety in Gort, Co Galway at about 2.30am as flood waters surrounded their home.

Motorists in Galway have been advised to divert at Oranmore on the N18 to Gort and have been advised to exercise extreme caution due to flooding south of Ardrahan. Motorists in Loughrea have been advised to divert on the N66 to Gort.

The main N18 road from Galway to Limerick is impassable. Other badly affected areas are Ennis, Co Clare and parts of Cos Kilkenny and Waterford.

Galway County Council have confirmed that 26kms of the M6 Dublin/Galway Rd (under construction) will open temporarily later today, to bypass the flooding at Ballinasloe, Loughrea and Craughwell.

In Tipperary, large areas of Clonmel are flooded. Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Fianna Fáil TD, Martin Mansergh, said he was heading to his Tipperary South constituency today to view the flood damage. Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said relief schemes were being implemented in towns traditional affected by flooding.

In Wexford, motorists are advised to avoid Enniscorthy as the main bridge and the quays are closed to traffic, with major delays on the N11.

Rail services between Ennis and Limerick have been replaced with bus transfers due to flooding on the line, while services from Dublin to Cork are experiencing delays of up to 30 minutes.

Iarnród Éireann warned services between Galway and Athlone have been cancelled, while Bus Éireann services between Dublin and Galway are terminating at Loughrea. Bus services between Athlone and Galway have been suspended.

Bus transfers are also operating between Wicklow and Gorey following a landslide earlier in the week.

The flooding has resulted in a loss of telephone and broadband services according to Eircom. The eircom exchange in Bandon, Co Cork suffered flood damage, affecting 10,500 customers, while approximately 6,200 customers are without telephone service as a result of a transmission fault caused by water damage at the radio site in Ennis, Co. Clare.

An Post said weather conditions and resulting floods have disrupted mail deliveries in some areas, particularly the West and South of the country and areas of West Cork.

The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) has advised householders to take sensible precautions to prevent further damage to their property, without risking injury to themselves. A spokesman said householders who have suffered damage should contact their insurers as quickly as possible.

The bad weather is expected to ease off today, but gales and heavy rain are predicted to return tomorrow.