At the time of writing this article it is looking increasingly likely that the annual winter flooding of the Shannon is set to match or exceed the record breaking levels of 2009.
Th flooding of 2009 devested many homes and businesses in the lower lying areas of Athlone, particularly in the Strand, Deerpark Road, Parnell Square, Clonown and Clonbonny areas. The last time the flooding reached these alarming levels was in the winter of 1954, so many assumed in 2009 that it would be a rare event that would not occur again for many years to come. The fact that it happened again just five years later is a very worrying development.
What concerns most people is the rate at which the water level rose. It shot up from an all time low to it’s current levels in just four weeks, a period that was not remarkably wet, with the exception of storm Desmond which brought exceptional rain and wind over a three day period, but even by the time that this arrived, the water levels were already causing concern. The following pictures (courtesy of Niamh Herraghty) show ‘before and after’ scenes with just four weeks lapsing between pictures
Among those battling to save homes and businesses from flooding are the council, Civil Defense, the Army, fire Service and many volunteers, using pumps, sandbags, machinery and diggers. There are encouraging reports that they are managing to keep the water at bay, but it is continuing to rise.
So, what’s the solution? Is it dredging? Is it flood defences? Does the answer lie in Ardnacrusha and Parteen weir? Or maybe it’s too late because it’s a result of climate change and it will be all down to containment and damage limitation as it happens in the future.
I think we should have a conversation about this here. If you have any insight to the flooding, or if you would like to make a further contribution to this article, please mail your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org.