As the after effects of Storm Frank continue to be felt across the country, the National Coordination Group again met in the (NECC) National Emergency Coordination Centre today (3rd January 2016) to review the situation and the response by emergency services.
The NCG is comprised of representatives from all the main government departments and all the key state agencies this includes, inter alia, OPW, ESB, HSE, Civil Defence, Coast Guard, Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána & Met Eireann.
The Group then heard updates, the outlook for the weather and the levels in the river systems, as well as the effects in communities around the country. Storms have brought effects, including flooding to roads, properties, homes and farmland, over a more widespread area than in recent weeks. Over one hundred properties, including homes, have been affected in this escalation of flooding, while a similar number of properties are at risk from flooding.
Local authorities continue to respond and assist communities in areas affected, and remain on standby and continue to monitor the situation in the areas where further flooding may occur. The local authority response and the necessary preparations continue to be supplemented by the Defence Forces and other service providers when and where required.
The public are advised to be vigilant when travelling on roads as there may be local flooding and downed trees. Travelling at reduced speeds in the affected areas is also advised. As many people prepare to return to work on Monday they are advised to check locally of possible flooding incidents or any other difficulties they might encounter while travelling..
Today rain in Ulster clearing northwards during the afternoon and evening. Sunny spells and scattered showers elsewhere, the showers heaviest in southern and western areas.
Tonight showers continuing in the southwest and west tonight, and showers developing near Ulster coasts also, elsewhere dry with clear spells.
Tomorrow showers will occur in many coastal counties and lingering fog may produce some drizzle also.
ESB advises that flows from Inniscarra Dam will reduce to 225 cubic meters today yesterday the level was (250 cubic metres per second).
The ESB continue to closely monitor the situation and are in communication with the local authorities and response agencies in accordance with normal operating procedures.
View infographic on the Lee system.
ESB advises that the flow of water through Parteen Weir will remain at 470 cumecs (cubic metres per second) today Sunday 3rd January 2016. The situation will be reviewed again tomorrow.
The levels in Lough Derg may reach 2009 levels in the coming days and, as a result, the flow through Parteen Weir may increase to those levels (up to 500 cumecs).
This level of water flow will have increased associated flooding to land and property in the vicinity of the Shannon downstream of Parteen Weir including the areas of Springfield, Montpelier, Castleconnell, Mountshannon (Annacotty) and the University of Limerick. Note that other areas between Parteen Weir and Limerick may also be vulnerable to flooding due to local issues.
ESB is continuing to monitor the situation and is liaising with the relevant County Councils.
View infographic on the River Shannon system.
OPW continues to monitor the hydrometric network and the following is the current position:All gauges on the Shannon catchment are currently indicating a rise in levels. In the past 48 hours, the following are the level changes:Upper Catchment: Carrick-on-Shannon has risen by 9cm.Mid catchment - Athlone area has risen by approx 5cm in the last 48 hours and is currently approx 1cm above the 2009 peak level.Lower catchment to Lough Derg at Banagher has risen by approx 4cm and is now approximately 3cm below its 2009 peak level. Limerick city has risen by approx 8cm in the past 48 hours and is now 6cm below its recent peak of 13 December.The smaller Shannon tributaries of the Brosna and Suck continue to rise and the Brosna has now exceeded the 2009 peak by 39cm.Each of the following catchments have risen significantly in the last 48 hours –Munster Blackwater (e.g. Mallow and Fermoy), Bandon River, Erne, Suir and Barrow. However, the Munster Blackwater, the Suir and Bandon rivers has also fallen during the past 24 hours.Each of the following additional catchments have fallen in the past 48 hours but remain at a very high level – Nore, Inny, Moy, and Slaney (e.g. Enniscorthy))We remain in a Severe Flooding Situation especially on the Shannon catchment but also in most of the other catchments mentioned above. Ongoing flood defence efforts including maintenance of temporary flood defences and pumping will therefore have to continue for some time yet.
Effects of flooding and safety messages
There is still plenty of flooding on roads in many parts of the country, and motorists are advised to heed the local authority warnings in this regard. The RSA also has useful advice on their website. In some areas clean ups are taking place and there may be debris or damage to road surfaces so people should be vigilant.
Significant numbers of homes and properties are affected or threatened by floodwaters in many areas of the country. Local authorities and other emergency services, along with volunteers in communities, and with assistance from the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, and Irish Red Cross, continue to work to support communities and maintain flood defences. Local authorities remain on standby to assist where further flooding affects communities.
People should avoid contact with floodwaters, which may be contaminated.
If it is necessary to walk through floodwater, use a stick or walking pole to test the ground under the water.
Do not enter flowing floodwaters – they may be deeper and faster flowing than they appear.
The public is reminded to avoid walking along riverbanks, which may be unsafe due to swollen rivers until it is safe to do so. They are also requested to heed any public warnings from the local authorities or local media outlets. People are further advised to follow local flood warnings issued through local authorities for more detailed information.
The Coast Guard advice to people remains the same - anybody who might visit coastal areas should take care. Their general safety message is Stay Back, Stay High & Stay Dry.
Organisers of planned events especially outdoor events, are asked to be aware of weather forecasts and local conditions. Where events go ahead, they should proceed with extreme caution, and organisers should make provisions for safety of participants and the public. Anyone planning or organising outdoor swimming events should inform the Irish Coast Guard of their plans.
Similarly, individuals or groups planning outdoor activities, such as hiking, over the coming days should also be aware of weather forecasts and local conditions. The advice is to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, inform a responsible person of your plans, including planned route, numbers of people involved (never go alone), and planned time of return. In the event you get into difficulty, and require emergency service assistance, call before dark; this helps rescue teams to locate you more quickly.
The public is asked to check on vulnerable neighbours during this period, and assist them with supplies of fuel, food, or medications.
As clean-up work is under way in many affected properties across the country, the Group notes the importance of safety and hygiene for those involved. Advice on flood clean-up is available at the website of the Health Services Executive (www.hse.ie).
Irish Water has advised that a boil water notice has been imposed on the Whitegate Regional Water Supply Scheme on the advice of the HSE due to high turbidity in the Dower spring source serving this area of east Cork. This public water supply serves a population of approximately 10,000 and the boil water notice has been imposed as a precautionary measure pending further investigation in the interest of public health. All customers in these areas are advised to boil all water for drinking, food preparation, brushing of teeth and making of ice until further notice. Water can be used as normal personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets.
Irish Water and Cork County Council will continue to liaise with the Health Service Executive with a view to lifting the Boil Water Notice as soon as practicable.
Areas affected by this notice are: Midleton South East, Ballynacorra, Cloyne, Aghada, Whitegate, Ballycotton, Churchstown, Trabolgan and surrounding rural areas. This notice does not apply to other areas or water schemes in Co.Cork. Further information including a map of the affected area and additional advice for customers is available on www.water.ie or by calling 1890 278 278
Septic Tanks Advice
What should I do if my septic tank is flooded?
If possible, the system should not be used until flooding subsides below the level of the tank, but this is more to prevent water backing up into a property than any other reason.
In short, many systems will be robust, they will be recovered and will be usable after a flood.
Where electrical components are used or damage is suspected – then a professional assessment (and repair) is necessary.
There is no significant environmental concern above and beyond that posed by the wider flooding event.
- Septic Tanks - what to do after flooding
- 1. Due to the potential for toxic gases in all septic systems, any servicing, cleaning, repairs, internal damage assessments and emptying/ pumping must be carried out by trained and experienced specialists.
- 2. After the flooding subsides, replace any dislodged manhole covers and check the system for any external signs of damage such as settlement, ponding of waste water, overflowing, blocked drains or not accepting water from the house.
- 3. If you suspect damage, or if your system relies on electrical components such as pumps, have the entire system assessed by a professional service engineer.
- 4. Ensure that any nearby private wells are checked and disinfected prior to use by following the EPA advice (available on www.epa.ie) for private well owners on what to do after flooding.
As always, do not enter flood waters as manholes may have been dislodged and the flood water will be contaminated and may pose a risk to health.
The group noted the responses of emergency services, defence forces, local authority workers, rescue teams, state agencies, businesses and the public for their hard work and patience during the recent event. The NCG will meet again tomorrow to review matters and Local Authorities will continue to monitor conditions and respond in support of communities.
Government support for small businesses
Government decided previously to establish a fund of €5m to aid small businesses which have suffered damage to their property in the current flooding. The fund will be administered on behalf of the Government by the Irish Red Cross.
The fund is intended for businesses in towns recognised to be at flood risk by the OPW and which have been unable to get flood risk insurance. Irish Red Cross have begun making payments. To date, in the region of 130 applications have been received with approx. 70% paid.
Application forms are still available on the Irish Red Cross website.
Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government
Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced funding of €8m for local authorities to facilitate and support the on-going clean-up works being undertaken at local level in the aftermath of Storm Desmond.
Department of Social Protection, Humanitarian Assistance Scheme
- The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has activated its Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, administered by the local Community Welfare Service (CWS), to assist householders affected by the current bad weather conditions.
- The situation in all affected areas is being monitored and CWS staff are engaging with the local authorities, the Gardai and other emergency personnel to ensure supports are being provided to those affected as swiftly as possible.
- Staff are assessing and meeting the demand for assistance by the public as the needs arise and when necessary are visiting the homes of persons affected.
- DSP has opened emergency clinics in towns as required. Athlone clinic continues to operate. Clinics open in Gort, Carrick-on-Suir, a number of towns in Kilkenny such as Thomastown, Graiguenamanagh, Callan and Mullinavat and in Enniscorthy. Staff are on standby to open emergency clinics in other towns if the need arises.
- People seeking assistance under the scheme should contact their local Department of Social Protection office who will be able to offer assistance.
- Emergency payments have already been made to a number of families – some 130 to 25thDec at a cost of approximately €130,000.
- There is often a time lag between the flooding event and actual claims. However, Community Welfare Service staff are also there to provide reassurance to people that support is available.
Further information and applications forms in relation to the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme are available Department of Social Protection offices in the affected areas and from the Department’s website:
National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management,
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government,
Custom House, Dublin
The response to all emergencies is appropriately locally-led in the first instance (by relevant local authorities in the case of severe weather). Local authorities are the lead agencies, locally, for response to flooding. The Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government monitors the situation and determines if a National Co-ordination Group should be convened.