Clare houses surrounded by water evacuated as rainfall warning

Residents taken from Springfield in Co Clare while other counties brace for floods

Residents of Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare, were moved from their homes and around 7,000 sandbags and pumping stations were delivered to ten houses in the village. Photograph: David Raleigh.

Residents of Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare, were moved from their homes and around 7,000 sandbags and pumping stations were delivered to ten houses in the village. Photograph: David Raleigh.

 

Houses in a Co Clare village have been evacuated as the flooded river Shannon swept around their homes and threatened to burst its banks in other parts of the country.

Met Éireann has issued a status yellow rainfall warning for the majority of the country, including counties along the River Shannon, valid from 8pm on Sunday until 8am Monday morning.

Residents of Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare, were moved from their homes and around 7,000 sandbags and pumping stations were delivered to ten houses in the village, some of which have been cut off from roads, and are now effectively languished on islands.

Areas included in Sunday night’s weather alert are the whole of Connacht, and counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Wicklow, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Clare, and Tipperary.

The national forecaster has said a spell of heavy rain on Sunday night “will lead to accumulations of between 20 to 25mm, with higher totals possible in upland areas.” The heavy rain is to be followed by sleet and snow in parts.

“As the ground is saturated at the moment and river levels are elevated the combined effect of rainfall and snow melt may lead to some localised surface and river flooding,” the forecaster warned.

Flooding in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim on Sunday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy/The Irish Times.
Flooding in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim on Sunday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy/The Irish Times.

On Saturday, Westmeath County Council said high water levels in Athlone town has led to “water on the minor roads in the lower parts of the town.”

“There are no residences at imminent risk and water levels remain approximately 0.8m below the highest level recorded in winter of 2015/16,” which saw severe flooding.

The local authority said staff were “on the ground carrying out protective works and will continue to deploy defence measures as required and in the expectation that water levels will continue to increase in the coming days.”

Both Galway County Council and Mayo County Council have closed some local roads due to flooding.

Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council councillor Peter Ormond has requested an emergency meeting of the Birr municipal district to discuss flooding along the Shannon.

Localised flooding has closed the Clonown Road in Athlone this week. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times.
Localised flooding has closed the Clonown Road in Athlone this week. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times.

‘It’s bringing back hell again’

Meanwhile in Co Clare, the nightmare of previous devastating floods, in 1995, 2009, and 2016 returned for Joe and Geraldine Quinlivan who have built a sandbag trench around their bungalow in Springfield.

“It’s bringing back hell again. Politicians just don’t seem to care. You’ll get the politicians here when the media arrive, and when they get their faces on the papers and on the television, they go away after that, and that’s what they have been doing since 1995,” said Mr Quinlivan.

He believes the solution lies in dredging trees and silt on a stretch of the River Shannon about a mile from his home. However, he said his requests have, so far, fallen on deaf ears.

“There are two types of people in this country, one that will do it and one will talk about it. Give me the man that will do it.”

In 2016, the family spent an exhausting seven weeks, night and day, pumping floodwater away from their home.

Everyone is on red alert, it will get worse with coming rainfall

Looking over her rear garden fence at a lake of floodwater coming towards her home, Geraldine Quinlivan fought back tears.

“The water has risen approximately six inches since 9pm last night, and its still rising so, it’s a cause of great concern for us,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate we find ourselves back in the same situation again with nothing done.

“I was up this morning at 3.30am and my husband got up at 5.30am to check to see what the water levels were like. We’ve just had enough, we cannot live like this any more.”

“It’s not good enough we are putting up with this and living with this threat every year.”

“This is not an acceptable way to live, we can’t cope with this physically or mentally anymore.”

Embankment

Springfield is located between the Parteen Weir and Limerick. The Parteen Weir sluice gates are operated by the ESB, which in the event of increased rainfall and large volumes flowing from Athlone,must in turn release increased discharge flows, which in turn flood communities on the lower Shannon basin.

Plans by Clare County Council to construct a nearby embankment and pumping station have been put on hold.

“We need this embankment built. The time for surveys, talking, and meetings is over,” Ms Quinlivan said.

“We need the new government to put an emphasis on flooding, on the misery of flooding and its effects on people. The new government should make flooding a priority.”

“It’s not rocket science. We just need it to be done.”

Speaking in Springfield, John Leahy, Clare Council Senior Engineer, said an increase in rainfall was forecast for the area overnight which would likely result in floodwaters rising.

“We’ve had crews here all week making preparations. There are some houses that have been cut off and some of those residents have been put up in local hotels,” Mr Leahy said.

“In addition to our own crews working here all week, we have the (Clare) Civil Defence here and we also have the Fire Service, and the Army on standby, if we need their assistance.”

“We’d like to reassure the people of Springfield/Clonlara that Clare County Council won’t be leaving here until the flood has subsided, until the waters have abated around their houses.”

Flooding in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim on Sunday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy/The Irish Times.
Flooding in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim on Sunday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy/The Irish Times.

Meanwhile in Leitrim, Finola Armstrong-McGuire, a Fine Gael councillor, said the rising river levels in Carrick-on-Shannon were “concerning.”

A retail park just outside of Carrick-on-Shannon had seen some flooding, but the town was currently safe and roads were passable, she said.

“Everyone is on red alert, it will get worse with coming rainfall,” she said.

“It is concerning ... The river has burst its banks, and there are threats [to homes],” she said.