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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020
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Athlone residents battle floods as raw sewage erupts onto streets

Locals residents have been working non-stop to prepare for more flooding

An member of the Irish Air Corps surveys the scene above Athlone
An member of the Irish Air Corps surveys the scene above Athlone
Image: Irish Air Corps

RAW SEWAGE HAS erupted onto the streets of Athlone as locals battle to prevent serious flood damage to homes and businesses in the wake of Storm Desmond.

Westmeath County Council has initiated its Flood Emergency Response Plan while members of the Defence Forces and the Irish Red Cross are present to assist in whatever way they can.

Tweet by @Denise Calnan Source: Denise Calnan/Twitter

Meanwhile, the Office of Public Works (OPW) says that the water levels of the Shannon are highest near Athlone where around an 8cm rise has been reported in the last 24 hours.

The ESB says that further rises are expected.

Tweet by @westmeathcoco Source: westmeathcoco/Twitter

While parts of the Strand in the west of the town and Deerpark in the east have been hit with serious flooding, Westmeath County Council says that the bulk of the town isn’t affected.

g Parts of the town flooded last night after the Shannon burst its banks Source: Rollingnews.ie

“The current flooding in Athlone is having a severe effect on a small portion of the town but the effects are localised and there is no impact on the town at large,” the Council says in a statement.

It is expected that the water levels will reach their peak on Saturday, with Met Éireann also predicting heavy rain for the weekend.

Homes in low-lying areas of the town are expected to be flooded with water levels set to rise and the town facing the biggest threat of damage since the last major floods in 2009.

Worst since 2009

To prevent the damage, locals worked all last night to stop water from reaching people’s homes. Sandbags have been placed along the banks of the river and outside people’s homes and businesses.

sand Sandbags set up to protect against the rising waters of the Shannon Source: Rollingnews.ie

“There’s a huge amount of water on the land still to come into Lough Ree,” one local resident, Timmy Donovan of Seán’s Bar, told TheJournal.ie.

“Lough Ree is 11 miles wide and it funnels into Athlone and when it reaches Athlone that’s when we’ll have a problem,” he said.

While parts of Athlone have been flooded by the Shannon, the river hasn’t burst its banks in other parts of the town yet, and Timmy said that residents are ready for the worst.

After 2009 people didn’t know what to expect and now people know what to expect – we’re prepared for the worst. We’re working around the clock because there’s a huge amount of water still to come down.

No insurance

While Timmy said that his part of the town had yet to be seriously affected by flooding, he was worried about the other areas like the Strand.

Winter weather Dec 9th 2015 Local Councillor Kevin Moran helps with flood defences in the town Source: PA WIRE

Many residents’ homes there had been seriously damaged in 2009 also, and since then they have been unable to get flood insurance.

“They’ve got it the worst over there,” said Timmy.

Our business is still going okay but I’d be very worried about a lot of the others.

Read: Worst of flooding still to come along Shannon river

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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