Athlone is prepared to handle flooding, says O’Rourke

Mayor Aengus O’Rourke has assured Athlone residents that local authorities are adequately equipped to handle any flooding that may occur in Athlone towards the end of winter.

With more rain forecasted for the coming days, Mayor O’Rourke remains confident that any flooding will be properly managed.

“I just want to reassure people that we are keeping a very close eye on the situation as it is unfolding,” said the mayor. “Our engineers are liaising with weather forecasters, the ESB, the Office of Public Works and all other relevant agencies to make sure that we are ready. And we will be ready, there is absolutely no doubt about that.”

Mayor O’Rourke’s concern at time of writing is that low-lying houses in the locality may need flood protection in the next week to 10 days. The nearby Mick McQuaid’s Bridge has already been closed this week due to flooding concerns.

Despite this, Mayor O’Rourke pointed out that Athlone’s central location offers an advantage over coastal areas in terms of forewarning. Local authorities will know several days in advance if rising waters are due to breach the level of the lowest home in Athlone, he said.

Long term flood protection works have also begun at several key areas around the town. In November, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran turned the sod on a €6 million flood alleviation scheme for the town. The work will be carried out in a phased manner, and began at the flood-prone Iona Park area.

“I would have had much more cause for concern in previous years that I do this year,” the mayor continued. “What we have going for us is that we are much later in the winter now than when we suffered flooding in previous years.

“In November you still have the short nights, you have not reached the shortest day of the year yet. We are well beyond that now, so I think any flooding we experience could be short lived and easily managed.

“The experience of 2009 and 2015 will stand to us, and the services that are needed will be rolled out without delay in the case of a flooding incident.”

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