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Long term flood strategy being drawn up

The Bastion apartments in Athlone (two blocks to the left) were evacuated after electricity was disconnected as a result of the flooding River Shannon. RollingNews.ie photo.

By Evan Short

A long-term strategy is being drawn up to protect 300 areas across Ireland which are in danger of flooding.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today chaired a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Committee in Dublin, this as large parts of the Midlands entered a fifth week under water.

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Unprecedented rainfall for the month of December as a result of Storm Desmond during the first week, and Storm Frank towards the end of the month, has seen many homes flooded and cut off.

On a visit to Athlone this week the taoiseach said that people whose homes have flooded on a regular basis in recent years should consider relocating to higher ground.

Mr. Kenny had been criticized for waiting until this week to visit stranded communities.

Said the Taoiseach: “The question you have to look at, is if it is possible to do minor drainage and minor relief works around some houses that are currently surrounded – or is it not?”

“If it is not, is it a question of a relocation policy, perhaps to higher ground. These things that need to be looked at because you cannot have a situation where people are facing this on an annual basis.”

When Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney arrived in Sprinfgield, County Clare he was berated by angry residents.

Geraldine Mason confronted the minister. “My house was the first house to go on the 12th of December,” she said.

“I am homeless – I have no home at the moment. It’s not fair and nobody cares. It’s been going on for years and you reckon it won’t be sorted until next year again.

“I want to stay in my home, live in my home, I don’t want to leave it. And I want something done.”

Water levels on the River Shannon are at an historic high and above those recorded during the floods of 2009.

With more rain on the way, communities along the Shannon are bracing themselves for more flooding, or at the very least the current river levels remaining and the uncertainty that that brings.

Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, is seeking an extra €10 million on top of the €8 million already earmarked for local authorities to help deal with the aftermath of the flooding.

However, road repairs in several counties could cost as much as €40 million in a final clean-up bill.