Fresh flood fears as Limerick areas placed on high alert

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Mike Sarsfield points to the rising tide of the Shannon near the scout hall in the Shannon Banks area. Below, Vincent Murray: 'Preparing for similar floods to 2009'. Pictures: Michael Cowhey
THERE are fears in Limerick city that this weekend could see a repeat of the devastating floods which engulfed King’s Island last year.

THERE are fears in Limerick city that this weekend could see a repeat of the devastating floods which engulfed King’s Island last year.

Limerick is on high alert with people being warned to prepare for the worst flooding in six years.

Council engineer Vincent Murray said: “We’re preparing for similar floods to 2009”.

Then, huge parts of Corbally and Shannon Banks were submerged. And in February 2014, heavy rainfall led to hundreds of homes in the King’s Island being left uninhabitable.

A council update, issued this Thursday morning, indicated that water levels on the Lower River Shannon are expected to peak during Sunday night into Monday morning.

Small rises in water levels were recorded in the Springfield area of Clonlara, Montpelier, Castleconnell and the Mountshannon Road in Lisnagry areas on Wednesday night, into Thursday morning.

This Wednesday, defence forces and council workers were deployed to high risk areas across Limerick, with a group of 30 troops working with the local community in Castleconnell to build defences to prevent the Shannon bursting its banks.

But there is anger in St Mary’s Park that their area had not yet received sandbags as of this Wednesday, as the rain continued to bucket down across the city.

Seanie Quinlivan, St Ita’s Street, said: “Everybody from Limerick up to Athlone is in danger, but I do not see any sandbags going around. People in St Mary’s are still living in fear and will be for a long time to come.”

Tony Lynch, who lives in the Lee Estate this Wednesday said he believed flooding is imminent. He said although the council said there is only a limited danger of flooding in his area, on the opposite side of the river at Corbally, sandbags are in place to prevent flooding.

“Either side is likely to be flooded,” he claimed.

Mr Quinlivan said people on the King’s Island would feel “reassured” if they had sandbags: “Lots of people say sandbags would not keep water out, but at least they would help,” he added.

Linda Ledger, St Munchin’s Community Centre said they remain ready to assist in the event of floods.

“I think (people) are living in hope really. We are standing by to help, but there was never anything put in place since the last flooding. We should have been given blankets, a change of clothes and definitely towels. There was never any follow up. We would be no more prepared now than we were the last time,” she said.

However, she admitted there may be more room to assist people, since the Kileely community centre has since taken over the former St Lelia’s National School.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan said he does not think people realise the “psychological impact” the fear of floods brings to people, particularly in St Mary’s Park.

“I have just come out of a local shop, and the trauma, even if it does not flood is incredible. I have had people crying. I was in the shop for 40 minutes, and it was full of pensioners. We have to call a spade a spade: we are two years after a massive flood in St Mary’s Park, and we have not done anything there.”

He called for a special fund to be put in place to allow for emergency flood defences to be built at short notice.

Harm Luijkx, forecaster with Met Eireann, said Limerick could expect Thursday and Friday to remain relatively calm.

“But then the rain will be pushed up from the south over the weekend, sometime Saturday or Sunday evening,” he confirmed.

Council indicated while the ESB decided this Wednesday not to change the discharge level at Parteen Weir from its current level, levels along the lower Shannon at Montpelier, Castleconnell and the Mountshannon Road are continuing to rise.

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