Army on standby to assist in flooded areas as heavy rain forecast

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran calls for farm recovery grant to assist those struggling with damage to buildings

The Defence Forces is on standby to provide more help in flooded areas as further heavy rain is forecast in the coming days.

Commandant James O’Hara told Midlands 103 radio station (which covers counties Offaly, Westmeath and Laois) the Defence Forces have already provided assistance in the midlands and southwest.

"Our personnel have deployed in two primary regions. The first one was in Co Limerick near Castleconnell and the second one in the Carnakilla area of Co Westmeath," he said.

A number of roads across the country are flooded, with the west the worst affected.

Roads in parts of Galway, Roscommon and Sligo have been closed as a result. Diversions are in place in parts of Tipperary, and near its borders with Galway and Offaly, due to flooding.

Commandant O’Hara said the Army is ready to help out wherever they are needed. “We will be on standby to respond to any request we receive from local authorities.”

The AA is advising motorists to never drive through floodwater unless confident that it is not too deep for the vehicle.

Wind warning

A Status Orange wind warning for western parts of the country has been issued ahead of Storm Jorge, which is expected to bring wet and very windy weather over the weekend.

The counties affected are Clare, Galway, Mayo, Kerry, Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo.

Met Éireann has forecast winds with gusts of up to 130km/h to hit western parts of the country.

Meanwhile there are concerns over the possible halting of train services on the Dublin to Sligo rail line after Irish Rail warned that the service could be suspended as a result of rising flood waters.

According to a spokesperson, the company has invested in significant work on the line in the Carrick on Shannon, and Dromod area in recent years and had raised the line in the areas that are prone to flooding during adverse weather conditions. The line is also prone to flooding as it passes near Lough Owel on the outskirts of Mullingar.

There are 19 locals roads impassable in the Athlone area, eight in the mid Roscommon area and four in Boyle area. Roads remain passable in Leitrim and largely in Longford, but land access to some islands on Lough Ree have been cut off.

Senior engineer at Roscommon Co Council Eugene Dwyer, says that while water is still on the rise in the rivers, it’s not at the same pace as earlier this week.

However, concern is now turning to turloughs, where levels are steadily on the increase from ground water sources, in cases of turloughs, water rises at a slower level and takes longer to clear.

Clare Co Council is to lodge a fresh planning application next month to construct flood defences there, following a number of delays that have hit the project in recent years.

Farmer grant

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran is calling for a farm recovery grant to assist farmers struggling with livestock and damage to farm buildings during the current flooding events.

The grants would cover a number of repair costs, including removing debris, re-cultivation and replacing damaged field gates. Mr Moran also believes that the fund should also be made available to farming communities to offset the increase in fodder costs as a result of the bad weather.

“The UK government have launched a similar fund in recent days and I believe that we should do the same here,” Mr Moran said. “Some €2 million has been made available by the UK government to support their farming community and I think that is something we need to look at here also.”

“The fund would simply help affected farmers get back on their feet. In recent days I have seen at first hand the impacts that the current spate of flooding is having on farming communities right across the country.”

“Government must recognise this unprecedented weather and support farmers following extreme flooding events. The money could be used to help cover unexpected costs such as buying increased levels of fodder, rebuilding fences and stone walls and recultivating damaged fields,” he said.