‘Positive’ development as Shannon levels stabilise

Red Cross receives over 100 calls requesting details of €5m flood relief scheme for firms

 

Water levels appear to be stabilising across much of the Shannon river system although authorities have warned that the flood situation still remains severe.

No increases were recorded by any river gauge devices along the Shannon over the last 24 hours - the first time water levels have ceased to rise in two weeks- in what was hailed as a positive development at today’s meeting of the National Co-ordinating Group.

“We have observed falls in the upper catchment of approximately two centimetres up at Carrick-on-Shannon and upstream to Boyle Abbey, and in the mid catchment area around Athlone a fall of approximately one centimetre,” said Jim Casey of the Office of Public Works.

He continued: “Downstream to Lough Derg there is no change in the Banagher and Meelick area, and further downstream in Limerick city we have observed a fall.

“ That peaked on Sunday evening and has fallen by approximately 10 centimetres in the last day and a half so we think that’s very positive.”

He warned that pumping and flood relief efforts may continue for a number of weeks in affected areas, and future changes in the river level are contingent on the weather.

Westmeath County Council said the Shannon was likely to rise by about two centimetres in Athlone by Thursday, which is expected to be the peak point in the area.

Further bands of heavy rain are expected over the coming days, and will mainly affect parts of the west and south.

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There are expected to be intermittent dry spells during the rest of the week following today’s status yellow rain warning for Cork, Kerry and Wexford.

The group has, for the first time, articulated a sum total of the number of people who have been flooded out of their homes which is thought to be “in the 50s”.

The Irish Red Cross says it has taken over 100 calls requesting information on the €5 million flood relief scheme for businesses, with 15 applications made so far.

The vast majority of queries concern damages of under €5,000, although some callers have discussed the possibility of claiming larger sums of up to €20,000 according to Irish Red Cross chief executive Liam O’Dwyer.

Clare County Council said its flood response operations had resulted in “significant costs” of almost €1 million, and further figures for estimates from other local authorities are expected shortly.

Elsewhere, Limerick City and County Council has requested that Waterways Ireland review its management of the Park Canal, which overflowed causing flooding in the Corbally area, and expressed its “disappointment” at comments made by the organisation in the aftermath of the flooding.

The council confirmed it had to deploy an excavator to prise open a set of lock gates which had jammed due to the weight of water in the canal at the time, and meetings are due to be held with Waterways Ireland on Tuesday.

Parteen Weir

The ESB says it will not be increasing the discharge rate of 440 cubic centimetres of water per second from Parteen Weir as water levels in Lough Derg have stabilised, and releases from Iniscarra Dam on the River Lee will also be kept consistent at 150 cubic metres per second.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said consideration should be given to a single agency to address the River Shannon’s ongoing flooding problems.

“There’s merit in examining it, ” Mr Howlin said. “We do need real co-ordination. Whether that is a single statutory agency or a better formal overarching agency that links existing agencies, I think we should really reflect upon that again.”

Iarnród Éireann has issued a flood update and said bus transfers are in operation between Carrick-on-Shannon and Longford because of water on the line and also on the Western Rail Corridor between Ennis and Galway.

There will also be less capacity on some Sligo and Longford services as a result, the company warned.

Meanwhile, Aidan Holland of the Bandon Business Alliance has confirmed that some 64 businesses in the town have signed a pledge threatening to withhold commercial rates totalling €1.1 million from Cork County Council if work on the flood relief scheme has not started by June 30th next year.