Shannon to rise half a metre due to rain and spring tides
Highest danger of flooding hazard in 20 years ahead of predictions of 35mm of rain
Galway County Council workers placing sand bags to prevent flooding at the Bridge Road in Portumna. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Home-owners and businesses along parts of the Shannon face the highest danger of flooding in 20 years later this week, following days of heavy rain and the onset of spring tides this weekend, emergency services have warned.
Up to 35mm of rain – nearly a third of December’s normal monthly fall – is predicted for today by Met Éireann for Connacht, Co Donegal, Co Clare and Co Kerry. The downfall threatens to breach hastily-erected flood defences.
Noting that the Shannon is “giving most concern”, Jim Casey of the Office of Public Work said that the water level on the river is still rising steadily.
“Levels in the lower Shannon catchment – which would obviously affect urban areas in Limerick City and up to Lough Derg and Athlone – are rising and expected to peak on Friday and Saturday,” he declared.
Spring tides due this weekend would raise the water level on the river by about half a metre, which matched with higher-than-normal flows on the river is “going to cause a bit of concern”, he told a briefing.
Levels on the Shannon are expected to peak on Thursday, with thousands of acres of farmland already under water. Ballinasloe in Co Galway and Crossmolina in Co Mayo are still struggling to cope with the damage caused by a month’s rainfall over one weekend.
Flood warning unitSimon Harris
A €5 million emergency fund approved by Ministers will be funnelled through the Irish Red Cross. Most of the money will be used to help businesses that are not able to get flood insurance because of previous damage.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said there will be an upper limit for funding but the monies will cover vouched expenses, adding that it intended that pay-outs will be made before Christmas in the worst-hit cases.
Irish Water chief technical adviser Gerry Galvin said the utility had dealt with more than 50 incidents since the weekend with damage to water and waste-water treatment plants and pipes.
Ten thousand people in Ballinasloe must now boil water before use, while the water treatment plant in Co Donegal has had to be temporarily to be shut down.
In the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government will receive reports later this week and next on the damage caused to bridges and roads that have still not been examined closely by council engineers.
Defending the Government’s record, Mr Kenny said a number of flood relief schemes likely to go to construction next year included Templemore, Claregalway, Bandon, Skibbereen and Foynes.
Two years had been lost because of legal objections to the tender necessary for relief works in Bandon, he added.