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'A tsunami from the skies': Taoiseach to travel to Donegal as emergency meeting takes place over floods

Met Éireann has issued a status yellow rainfall warning for five counties.

tractor A man looks at an overturned tractor on a collapsed road in Iskaheen, Donegal Niall Carson / PA Wire/PA Images Niall Carson / PA Wire/PA Images / PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 3.45pm 

THE GOVERNMENT HAS committed to fully supporting Donegal County Council deal with the clean-up after catastrophic flooding.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to head to the areas affected, RTÉ reports.

The commitment was made at an interdepartmental meeting on the actions and progress taken in dealing with the flooding. A statement said that there are a number of sources of assistance available to those affected by the floods:

  • An emergency humanitarian support scheme for small businesses, community, voluntary and sporting organisations will be put in place to deal with the after-effects. The Red Cross will administer the scheme with funding provided by central Government
  • Financial support under the Department of Employment and Social Protection’s existing Humanitarian Assistance Scheme is also available
  • This support will be targeted at the immediate needs of households who have been directly impacted by the flooding (such as clothing and food) with further support available in the medium and long term (financial support for household items and structural repair) as the clean-up operations begin.

People and families in need of assistance are being advised to visit the local Intreo Centre.

The Department has redeployed staff to the offices serving the worst affected areas, such as the Inishowen Peninsula. Intreo is asking those in need of supports to visit its office – but those unable to travel to the offices can contact Buncrana Intreo office on (074) 9364600 or Ballybofey Intreo on (074) 9130490.

“These schemes will be demand-led and all necessary funding will be made available, as required,” said the statement.

In addition, if anyone requires assistance and has not yet contacted the relevant agency or Department, we would encourage them to do so. People can contact Donegal County Council on 074 9153900 or 074 9172288 for assistance.


Earlier today, Junior Minister Joe McHugh compared the recent flooding in Co Donegal to a tsunami.

McHugh is among the ministers visiting the county today as the clean-up operation continues.

The Donegal TD said: “Tsunamis are associated with catastrophic sea surges but what happened in Donegal earlier this week was similar; it was a tsunami from the skies which dropped millions of tonnes of water directly into the heart of communities.

“Farmers in Inishowen and east Donegal have lost crops and animals and have seen the topographical nature of their lands changed forever through the sheer surge of the flood waters.

I visited farmers in north Inishowen who cannot find their livestock. I also saw acre upon acre of potato and grain crops around St Johnston washed away and destroyed. I have spoken to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed about the losses being faced and the assistance required.

Soldiers have arrived in Co Donegal to help with the clean-up operation.

Irish Farmers’ Association President Joe Healy has been visiting the Inishowen area to survey the damage caused.

“The farming community is reeling from the shock of what happened here on Tuesday. In some cases stock has been lost, and in other cases land and crops are submerged under water. Farm families have been cut off because of damage to roads and bridges,” Healy said.

He added that the farmers he met were still trying to come to terms with the destruction caused, stating: “They are facing ruin because of the losses they have suffered.”

Rainfall warnings 

Earlier, Met Éireann issued a status yellow rainfall warning for five counties. Donegal will be worst affected, with the potential for 25 to 40mm of rain to accumulate in 24 hours, especially on higher ground.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said 30 troops will help Donegal County Council with the clean-up operation.

“I have no doubt that there will be loads of work for the members of the Defence Forces … I think we need to bring life back to normality for the people of Donegal.”

Kehoe said more soldiers will be deployed to help if necessary.

The minister said about 200 homes have been affected and some of the damage is “absolutely devastating”.

This is absolutely unprecedented, biblical you could almost say.

The first of the flooding hit on Tuesday night and, when questioned about why it had taken two days for soldiers to be deployed to the area, Kehoe said the situation had to be assessed before action was taken.

“People just don’t fall out of the sky so there is a lot of coordination and work has to be carried out.”

Kehoe said he spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night and stressed to him the importance of the Red Cross Small Business Humanitarian Funding – which was put in place for people in the midlands in 2015 and 2016 following flooding – “to make sure that we give every assistance to small businesses and homeowners”.

He added that the Department of Social Protection has made emergency income support payments to some of those affected. An inter-agency meeting to discuss the response to the flooding will be held in Dublin today.

Rainfall warnings

The rainfall warning for Donegal will be valid until 6pm, while a status yellow rainfall warning for Galway, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo will remain in place until 3pm. Totals of 25mm of rain are expected in these counties, but there is the potential for 35mm on higher ground.

Overall, it’ll be rather cloudy today. There’ll be heavy showers or longer spells of rain at times in Ulster, Connacht and parts of north Leinster. It will be brighter further south, with scattered showers and some sunny spells developing at times.

Top temperatures will range from 16 to 19 degrees Celsius, with moderate south to southwest winds becoming westerly in places later.

Met Éireann says it will become dry in many places tonight. There will be further showers in northern counties, but these will become well scattered.

There will be some clear periods especially in midland and southern areas, with some mist and fog developing. Temperatures will dip to eight to 12 degrees overnight. It’ll be mildest in the north.


It’s expected to be bright and dry in many places tomorrow, with sunny spells especially in midland and southern areas. It’ll be cloudier in northern counties with scattered showers. Afternoon temperatures will range from 16 to 20 or 21 degrees, with light breezes.

Met Éireann says mixed weather will continue in the coming days – there will be some dry periods, but showers or spells of rain at times also.

There will be dry spells on Saturday night, but showers in some western and northern areas. Lowest temperatures will range from nine to 12 degrees, in light to moderate southwesterly winds. There’ll also be some patches of mist or fog.

Sunday looks as though it will be rather dry and cloudy, with occasional sunny spells and well scattered showers. Top temperatures will range from 17 to 20 degrees, in moderate southwesterly winds. Sunday night will become breezy, with persistent rain pushing into Atlantic coastal areas later in the night.

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