Clonmel residents leave homes as river levels continue to rise

Increased risk of flooding along Liffey, more than 200 homes uninhabitable nationwide

Residents of the Kilganey area of Clonmel, Co Tipperary are leaving their homes this evening as the river Suir continues to rise.

The decision was taken shortly after 8pm and alternative accommodation is being sought for the residents required to leave their homes.

Earlier, at a briefing of the National Emergency Co-ordination Committee, Brendan McGrath, chief executive of Galway City Council, who was speaking on behalf of all local authorities, said the critical level for the Suir river, which flows though Clonmel, was four metres.

The river is at 3.8 meters this evening and rising, prompting the decision to evacuate.

Other towns and rural areas across the State face a “severe flood situation” with over 200 homes uninhabitable due to flooding, about 150 at risk and over 60 homes cut off by flood waters, members of the emergency committee said.

Met Éireann is forecasting a band of heavy rain over the country on Saturday night followed by a spell of dry weather on Sunday giving temporary respite before a "another band of heavy rain to move in on Wednesday".

At the briefing of the Emergency committee Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works, said over the past 48 hours water levels had increased in the rivers Shannon, Blackwater, Erne, Nore, Suir, Barrow, Slaney and Clare.

Shortly after 5pm on Saturday the ESB warned of the potential for flooding in the River Liffey catchment due to an increase in the amount of water being released from the Pollaphuca reservoir.

It said Kilcullen, Clane, Newbridge, Straffan and Celbridge were particularly at risk.

In a statement on Saturday evening the Defence Forces said 110 members were deployed on "Aid to Civil Authority (ATCA) tasks nationwide" to help with the flood relief effort.

It said soldiers were on one hour’s notice to be ready to deploy from barracks nationwide if requested by the civil authorities.

A number of riverside towns across the country are putting up flood defences on Saturday evening as a new weather warning takes effect. Water levels have reached a new record high on parts of the River Shannon, surpassing levels seen in 2009.

In Athlone the River Shannon has risen marginally over the peak levels of 2009 and Westmeath County Council expects it to rise a further 5cm on Sunday.

Water levels to rise on Sunday

Clare County Council said the lower Shannon is just 100mm away from the record level in Clonara, Co Clare.

In Co Offaly levels in the Brosna river surpassed the peaks reached in 2009 - the last serious period of flooding - by 4cms giving rise to concerns about further flooding in the Ferbane area.

“I stress we remain in severe flood situation especially in the Shannon catchment but also in the catchments I have mention so we will have to maintain the ongoing flood defence efforts for some time to come,” said Mr Casey.

In county Cavan 50 roads are flooded and 66 houses marooned, though not flooded. Mr McGrath said Cavan County Council was purchasing more boats to help people get to and from their homes.

There were similar issues in county Longford, Mr McGrath said, while in Roscommon the local authority has been “rising roads” - i.e. putting down up to two inches of compacted gravel to help keep them passable.

Since Friday the defence forces have been called to evacuate homes in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, Clonlara, Co Clare and in Cork city.

Garda John Ferris urged people to use their "common sense" in coming days as traffic volumes increased as more people return to work and the reopening of schools.

“Unfortunately common sense isn’t that common at times...When you encounter flood waters you need to exercise common sense. Unless you are sure you can get through that flood water do not attempt to go through. Diversions are in place.

“If you are planning a journey consult local authority websites and recognise that tomorrow [SUNDAY]there will be heavy rain in the morning. However it will quickly clear. Maybe delay travel plans to the afternoon.”

Wettest December

Meteorologist Evelyn Cusack said last month had been the "wettest December on record with between twice and four times the average rain fall, and with Cork getting up to four time the average for December.

“We still have a pocket of rain in the in the midlands but it is dying away so in fact there will be a big improvement this evening,” she said on Saturday.

“But it is only temporary as another band of heavy rain is approaching from the Atlantic. Then a good dry spell on Sunday afternoon and . . we are expecting another bad of rain to move in on Wednesday.”

The Government said is considering a large-scale deployment of Defence Forces, the Coast Guard and the Civil Defence to help “exhausted” volunteers to deal with the flood crisis.

The National Coordination Group for severe weather have warned the severe floods could last two more weeks.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has asked all responsible Ministers to bring solutions to future flooding problems to the Cabinet meeting next Tuesday.

Minister for State for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris said 1,000 Defence Force personnel had been deployed and more may be needed to be called on by the local authorities for further help.

Kildare County Council is advising residents and businesses near the River Liffey there was an increased risk of flooding over the next four days.

The council said it had sandbags available to vulnerable areas and anyone experiencing difficulty should ring 1890 500 333.

ESB has again warned it looked as if the water level in Lough Derg would reach 2009 levels in the coming days when it which reached 500 cumecs (cubic metres per second).

The flow of water through Parteen Weir would be at 470 cumecs on Saturday and the levels will be reviewed on Sunday

The high level of water flow has increased flooding to homes and land around the Shannon downstream including areas Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty) and the University of Limerick.