More than 260 homes have been evacuated as residents are being warned of further flooding along the River Shannon, as rain continue.
The warning to Shannon area residents came from Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB) who believe Lough Derg’s water levels may reach 2009, record levels, in the coming days as further rain is expected. Met Éireann has rain levels will return to average figures this week but this will do little to aid the receding flood waters as the ground remains saturated.
Sadly hundreds of families, especially in the Shannon area, continue in the battle to keep floodwater out of their homes. In Athlone 100 people from about 60 apartments at Bastion Quay were evacuated after electricity was cut for safety reasons. The ESB were forced to make this decision after pillars connecting an electricity substation to the Bastion Quay apartments became submerged.
On Sunday, the National Coordination Group estimated that 260 homes across the country have now been evacuated, including 14 homes in Kilganey on the south bank of the River Suir, in Clonmel, County Tipperary.
Minister Simon Coveney said it was too soon to start discussing the relocation of residents from the affected areas. He made these comments on Sunday evening while visiting Clonlara, South East Clare, where families have been evacuated.
1 area evacuated lastnight. Gardaí & Tipperary Civil Defence who were calling to all houses in Kilganey, Clonmel. pic.twitter.com/0gN9b9Ud3w— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) January 3, 2016
He told the Irish Examiner “I don't think that we are looking at that option at the moment," he said.
"We need to look at more effective ways at managing (the River Shannon) flow to prevent flooding in the future…Only when we have done that, will anybody concede that we have to start relocating people."
Met Éireann’s forecast expects “rainfall amounts this week around or just below average for most areas, though amounts still above normal in coastal regions of the north, west and south.” However, AA Ireland (the Automobile Association) has warned that even a little rainfall will cause disruption as the ground remains saturated.
Along the River Shannon Irish Defence Forces are operating pumps and maintaining sandbags walls in an attempt to help residents.
On Monday Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins visited Galway. Having visited Labane, he released a statement commenting on the good work of the “agencies and volunteers who have been assisting those affected” and “the extraordinary sense of community that has prevailed for nearly a month now.”
“One particular aspect of the floods in Labane to highlight is the situation of those who are isolated and marooned and facing a painful wait for the waters to recede. It is only then that the task of recovery, in so far as possible, can begin.”
The President also called on the authorities and the public to “pull together now to address the urgent challenge of managing these events and of putting in place the mechanisms needed to ensure better preparedness in the future, as the evidence points to these extreme events becoming more frequent, and accelerating, in the years to come.”
Ireland’s Cabinet will resume after Christmas break on Tuesday and the flooding crisis will be top of their agenda. Already Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has requested that all Ministers with a responsibility in the area including costs of prevention, rescue, repair and clean-up costs submit detailed memoranda. Until now $24.9 million (€23m) has been allowed for the three emergency funds but this is expected to be increased.
Met Éireann said, on Monday, "Many places will start dry but showers over Munster will become more widespread during the day.
"Showers will be heaviest in west Munster and over north and east Ulster. Highest temperatures of 6 to 10 degrees.
"Showers will continue tonight and they will turn heavy in the east.
"Fog patches may form in the midlands and west in long clear spells. Lowest temperatures of 2 to 6 degrees in light breezes."
Looking ahead to Tuesday, it added: "Tomorrow will see sunshine and showers.
"Some will be heavy again in the east, with good dry periods elsewhere. Highest temperatures of 6 to 9 degrees. North to northwest winds will be mostly moderate."
Motorists are being advised that some roads remain impassable and Garda Superintendent John Ferris recommended leaving extra time for journeys.
He said “We have flood warnings in virtually every county in Ireland today, so we're asking people to be very careful using the roads as they return to work, schools and colleges.
"We’re asking people to recognize that many roads have been flooded for weeks at this stage, and there will be debris and potholes etc on these roads."