Flood relief efforts continue


Farmers across the State are today increase efforts to help their colleagues affected by flooding.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) is distributing emergency supplies of fodder donated by farmers to those worst affected by floods.

The move comes as the level of water in the Shannon River continues to rise.

Limerick City Council began deploying sandbags to properties in vulnerable areas this afternoon as a precautionary measure. It identified several vulnerable areas in low-lying locations, but said there was no immediate threat of flooding outside these areas.

Parts of Castleconnell and Montpelier remain inaccessible, with a number of homes abandoned as a precaution amid growing fears that further heavy rain and water releases from the Parteen Weir will lead to increased flooding.

In a statement issued earlier, the Clare Crisis Management Centre said it has received confirmation from the ESB that they will not be increasing the rate of release of water from Parteen Weir today.

The ESB said this evening it would continue to maintain the same rate of discharge from the weir overnight.

The ESB today reported water levels in Lough Derg were still rising, but the rate of increase has fallen to 1cm recorded over the last 24 hours.

A flood warning issued earlier this week remains in place along the lower River Shannon, with Clonlara, Westbury and Shannon Banks being the areas affected.

Met Éireann has forecast widespread showers today across west Munster and areas near the west coast, but most places are expected to have bright weather, with some sunny breaks. Further east, showers will be isolated, and much of Leinster is expected to be dry.

According to the IFA, the fodder in its relief programme will be brought to Gort, Ballinasloe and Banagher and distributed through the organisation's branch structure to farmers who need foodstuff for their livestock.

The Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, today announced the availability of funds in a €2 million Fodder Aid Scheme that was announced recently.

Mr Smith said: "It is important that the funds made available by the Government are paid as quickly as possible. I, therefore, encourage only those farmers, who are directly affected, to complete and submit the application without delay."

Under the programme, farmers will have to demonstrate that the fodder was damaged and the extent of that damage. The deadline for applications is November 27th. Farmers can obtain application forms from the Department's website (www.agriculture.gov.ie) or local Teagasc offices. A lo-call number is also available on 1890 252118.

As conditions continued to worsen, particularly in Galway, Roscommon and Clare, the IFA opened its first clinic to help farmers claim from the €2 million fund set up for fodder relief.

Mr Walshe has briefed EU commissioner for agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, on the flooding and sought an aid package for farmers.

Eircom said it had restored services to more than 35,000 customers, with 6,100 customers without service acorss the country as a result of the floods. The telecoms firm said more than 9,500 faults had been cleared since Monday.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said yesterday the €10 million in emergency funding for those affected by the flooding crisis will be increased if necessary.

Responding to suggestions the funds allotted for humanitarian aid and emergency works was inadequate, Mr Cowen said “flexibility” was the byword for the response of Government and of all agencies.