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Ireland suffers 'most severe flooding in living memory'

Hundreds of people evacuated from their homes as an unprecedented amount of rainfall left many parts of the country under water.

Hundreds of people evacuated from their homes as an unprecedented amount of rainfall left many parts of the country under water.


Autumn 2009 was the third year in succession that the Celtic nations' seaboard experienced record rainfall and flooding.

Ireland in particular was affected by the wet weather, with an unprecedented run of consistently wet summers and wet winters resulting in cumulative flooding in many parts of the country.

Parts of Scotland and Wales were also badly affected by the exceptional amount of rain that fell in October and November 2009.


Ireland suffers "most severe flooding in living memory"

Already described as a "once in 800 years event", November 2009 will be remembered for the worst floods in living memory in Ireland.

Many parts of the country were battling floods after an exceptional amount of heavy downpours fell on land already saturated by earlier rains.

Towns were virtually cut off by floodwaters and hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes and put up in emergency accommodation.

Transport networks were disrupted by the floods and motorists were warned against making unnecessary journeys in the affected regions. Over one hundred roads were closed to all traffic with further roads heavily flooded. Flooding on train tracks forced the closure of many railway lines.

Fears of water pollution led to "boil notices" being issued in affected areas, with tankers having to bring fresh drinking water to many communities.

Telephone and broadband services were also disrupted as floodwaters damaged telephone exchanges in several parts of the country.

The Irish Defence Forces deployed troops to assist emergency and rescue services in the worst hit areas, and the Irish Government held an emergency meeting in response to the crisis.

Met Eireann, the Irish meteorological office, explained that the floods were caused by an accumulation of severe rainfall as "Ireland has had three extraordinary years of rainfall, both in terms of the overall amounts of rain and in the number of very intense spells of heavy rain."

The south and west of the country were the worst affected by the flooding, particularly County Cork and County Galway.

County Cork only saw two dry days in October and Galway received a record 240 mm of rainfall during November.

Ireland's second city, Cork, was severely affected by the flooding after the river Lee burst its banks and put parts of the city under one metre of water. About 18,000 people in the city were left without drinking water as flooding damaged a pumping station, and tankers had to be brought in to provide clean water.

In County Galway, hundreds of people were evacuated with the help of the Defence Forces and the Gardaí after the river Suck burst its banks. Villages along the river Shannon were submerged and many communities were virtually cut off as the rain flooded local roads.

As the Irish Government held an emergency meeting in response to the crisis, Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced that the main concern was to help people evacuated from their homes and to maintain water supplies.

The Taoiseach said "the immediate priority for Government is to ensure that shelter is available for those people who have been displaced from their homes and to arrange for the provision of emergency supplies of safe drinking water where systems have been damaged."

Minister for the Environment John Gormley, who visited some of the worst hit areas, said "These are some of the worst floods we have seen in many parts of the country in living memory and our priority must be to help those people whose lives and livelihoods have been so badly hit by these events."

Mr Gormley announced that an emergency fund had been set up to assist local authorities and those whose possessions had been destroyed by the floods.

The Irish Farmers' Association warned of a fodder crisis and severe economic repercussions as thousands of hectares of farmland were submerged by the flooding.

Many traders in the most affected areas lost their entire Christmas stock and insurance companies were bracing themselves for an avalanche of claims from hundreds of homes suffering severe flood damage.

The battered country's economy is now left facing more than €100 million flood damage bill, which tops the record €98 million cost of flooding in August 2008.


Hundreds evacuated as floods hit Scotland

Emergency services had to evacuate almost a thousand homes in Scotland as the country was severely hit by last November's downpours.

Aberdeenshire in the north-east and the Scottish Borders in the south were the worst affected areas as parts of Scotland saw as much as a month's rain within 36 hours.

Rivers burst their banks after torrential rain fell on ground that was already saturated from October's heavy downpours.

People in affected areas were advised against travelling as roads were closed and rail services were cancelled, leaving passengers stranded for hours.

A number of town centres were under water, causing severe damage to homes and business, and prompting the Scottish Government to call an emergency meeting to coordinate the emergency and rescue services.


Road closures and trapped motorists in Wales

West Wales was badly affected by November's wet weather, with over 20 roads closed due to both flooding and high winds.

Train services and some fast ferry services between Holyhead and Dublin were cancelled, and emergency services rescued people from houses and cars as strong rainfall, high tides and strong winds swept the west of the country.


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Celtic Countries is the online magazine for people who enjoy the Celtic nations, their natural splendour, culture, and lifestyles.

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