The Defence Forces have deployed more than 175 troops, 24 vehicles, four flat-bottomed boats and well over 10,000 sandbags to assist civil authorities in dealing with the water levels during some of the worst flooding to hit Ireland in the past 20 years.
The west and south of the country are the worst affected, with the Lee, Shannon, Suck and Suir rivers all bursting their banks and widespread havoc spreading throughout the counties of Galway, Clare and Cork. Cork City itself is under sever pressure from the rising waters, and faces large scale drinking water shortages after pumps within the city water treatment plants were damaged. Several of the county treatment plants have been closed altogether. Only a day and a half worth of supply remain in the city’s resevoirs.
In Co. Galway meanwhile transportation is the challenge with the roads out at Craughwell, Ballinasloe, Claregalway and innumerable smaller towns and villages throughout the county. The NRA has confirmed that a section of the unfinished N6 bypassing Ballinasloe, Loughrea and Craughwell opened at 5.30pm. The Ballinasloe bypass can be accessed at the Tulrush Interchange at the East of Ballinasloe and the West Ballinasloe junction. It is expected that the bypass of Craughwell will be open at about 9.00pm. The bypass of Craughwell can be accessed at the Coolagh Roundabout at Galway City and the Carrowkeel Junction North of Loughrea. The Link Road from Carrowkeel to Loughrea will also be open, connecting to the Loughrea Bypass. Intermediate junctions will not be open. Motorists are asked to drive slowly and with extreme care.
In comments made on the IFA website in the past hour, IFA Connacht Vice-President Michael Silke said the recent, unprecedented flooding across the country was going to add further to a severe income and fodder crisis for farm families. Mr Silke said “farmers have had to move cattle off land that is flooded and use up scarce winter fodder. The difficult weather during the summer had already left many farmers with insufficient fodder. They will now be forced to buy in extra feed, pushing up their costs and compounding the serious income situation for farm families.”
The IFA Connacht Vice-President criticised the OPW for their lack of action in maintaining river systems and said this has been a significant contributor to the current difficulties for thousands of farm families and rural dwellers. He said, “Three years ago the Office of Public Works announced the commencement of a landmark flood management programme for the River Shannon to address the ongoing flooding problems by moving the water through the river more efficiently. Nothing has happened since the announcement and the Government should hang their head in shame.” Michael Silke concluded, “The State needs to urgently introduce a national flood management plan, which includes the environmental management of the rivers and streams, which for years have being both neglected and ignored. In addition to this the OPW must commence the River Shannon management programme.”
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Gardaí are asking everyone not to travel if at all possible, to cooperate with emergency services, and to look out for neighbours and the elderly. They also ask that particular attention be kept on children’s whereabouts at all times.