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Kenny asks Ministers for new plans to deal with flood crisis

Flood-hit towns prepare as new rainfall warning issued for south and south west

A dog stands on sandbags outside her home following a visit from Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Carrickobrien in Athlone, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the banks of the East side of the river Shannon in Athlone. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Ministers who are responsible for responding to the flooding crisis have been asked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to provide a series of new proposals to help homeowners, businesses and famers worst affected.

Mr Kenny met the Ministers and representatives of the National Emergency Coordination Group on Friday morning to discuss flooding across the country following a series of storms. The Taoiseach has asked for their plans to be brought to Cabinet next Tuesday.

Earlier on Friday Met Éireann issued a new 24-hour rain warning and the ESB warned that had to increase the flow of water through the Parteen Weir meaning a greater likelihood of flooding downstream.

The yellow weather alert applies to counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford.

The warning is in place until Saturday at 9am with rainfall of up to 35mm is expected and higher amounts on mountains.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Kenny said communities affected by ongoing flooding were showing “enormous resilience”.

“The voluntary work done locally, in particular, has been outstanding,” he said.

The Taoiseach said Government departments dealing with flooding and damage caused by the series of winter storms would report on action taken so far and new measures to help people affected by flooding in the future.

“This is to include a memo from the Department of the Environment on long term flood forecasting, and harnessing an ability to coordinate data from all relevant agencies,” he said.

“Indications are that adverse weather will continue, so I’ve asked that all Ministers and officials remain vigilant and continue to manage the flood challenges across the country.”

Mr Kenny made the trip to one of the worst affected towns Athlone in Co Westmeath on New Year’s Eve following criticism of the Government’s slow response to the weather crisis.

Tánaiste Joan Burton, who fell out of the boat into shallow water while visiting flood affected areas in Kilkenny on Thursday, also attended the meeting.

Ms Burton said a major plan was needed to cope with severe weather events in the future.

“I also want to remind people that the Community Welfare Services are available to everyone in flood affected areas and I urge people to avail of these services,” she said.

New weather warning

The latest weather warning comes as authorities concern grows that severe rainfall could lead to further flooding along the river Shannon and other parts of the country.

Forecaster Gerald Fleming said the heavy rain would continue until Sunday and this December had been the wettest since records began 50 years ago.

Cork had experience three times the average amount of rainfall for December and Dublin Airport more than double.

Electricity and rising water levels

A spokesman for the ESB said 350 customers woke up to no power on Friday morning due to a number of faults.

He said all the homes and businesses affected by Storm Frank had their power restored.

The ESB also released statement warning the continued rainfall make it likely water levels in Lough Derg could reach 2009 levels in the coming days.

It said the flow of water through Parteen Weir would increase to 470 cumecs (cubic metres per second) on New Year’s Day.

A spokesman said the utility would continue to monitor the situation but the increased water levels meant property and land in the area of the Shannon stream would be flooded.

This areas included Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty) and the University of Limerick.

Limerick City and County Council said it had extra pumping capacity available to respond to any water level increases arising from the increased spill rate from Parteen Weir.