Communities in west remain on alert for flooding

IFA criticises plans for early-warning system for flooding as ‘another quango’

Sandbags are cleared away from Quinn’s Chemist in Crossmolina after the weekend’s flood damage where water levels reached over four feet. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

Sandbags are cleared away from Quinn’s Chemist in Crossmolina after the weekend’s flood damage where water levels reached over four feet. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

 

Thousands of acres of farmland are under water in the midlands, while east Galway towns such a Ballinasloe on the river Suck and north Mayo’s Crossmolina on the river Deel are still struggling to cope with the worst effects of a month’s rainfall over one weekend.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) flood project chairman Tom Turley criticised Government plans announced yesterday for a new early-warning system for flooding and said “we don’t need another quango”.

The €2.5 million allocated for it “would be better [spent] on remedial works”, Mr Turley said.

Met Éireann already has a very good system and I can get 10 different forecasts on my phone.”

Mr Turley said the national catchment flood risk assessment and management programme led by the Office of Public Works needs to be “up and running” as incidents of severe flooding were becoming more regular.

The programme is in consultation phase, but “we know what’s required, and we have to grasp the nettle and remove siltation from river systems”, he said.

Flood defence

“We need one agency to manage the Shannon, not just the ESB, ” he added.

The village of Craughwell had some respite yesterday when the Dunkellin river subsided, allowing the R446 link road through the village to reopen. Several houses and a business on the river banks were flooded at the weekend and residents had to be evacuated.

Ballinasloe auctioneer Pat Finn, whose business was also flooded on Sunday, said the situation had “stabilised” in the town’s St Michael’s Square. “The council has been working flat-out to keep pumps going and it is saving some premises. It was just a bit too late for some of us,” Mr Finn said.

Residents and business leaders were holding a meeting last night to discuss forming a committee that would press for a long-term action plan, he said.

Extreme weather

Fine GaelMichael Mullins

A precautionary “boil water” notice was issued for Ballinasloe by Irish Water earlier this week, due to infiltration of the water treatment plant by flooding from the river Suck.

In Mayo, Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh questioned why the county’s major emergency plan was not implemented at the weekend and has called for all relevant agencies to attend next Monday’s council meeting.

She described visiting an 88-year-old resident of Crossmolina who was devastated when she had to be evacuated from her home on Saturday night after the Deel had burst its banks. The Irish Red Cross plans to distribute bottled drinking water to the Shannon towns of Athlone, Co Westmeath, Portumna, Co Galway, and Limerick over the next two days as part of emergency flood relief .