Evacuation in Mountmellick in December 2017. Pic Kevin Byrne
An important river level checking station that acts as alert for flooding on the River Barrow near Mountmellick shows the level has risen to above the median flood level ahead a Status Yellow rain warning.
The Office of Public Works real time water level checking services for the Borness station near Mountmellick shows that levels have climbed and stayed high over the weekend.
At lunchtime (1.15pm) on Sunday, February 23, the level reached 2.26 metres. This is above the 2.25 metre median flood level for the station.
Levels at the Barrow at the Borness station have remained high since Storm Ciara which struck on February 8 and 9. Over that weekend the level rose by two metres to just under 30 cms below the 2.7 metre flood level recorded in November 2017 when the Laois town was badly flooded.
Roads were closed for a time during Storm Ciara with some properties impacted. Farmland around the town has been submerged in recent weeks.
The River Barrow does not flow through the towns but its tributaries do. They enter the River Barrow after passing through or around Mountmellick.
Laois County Council and the County Laois Fire and Rescue Service have been on alert since Storm Ciara for possible flooding in the town.
The council's Director of Services, Simon Walton, explained that the higher the water level in the Barrow at Borness the more difficult it is for the three local rivers (Pound, Owenass and Blackwater) to discharge to the bigger river. This raises the risk of flooding in the town.
MORE BELOW PICTURE OF OPW LEVELS ON THE BARROW NEAR MOUNTMELLICK SINCE STORM CIARA
He also revealed that it could have been a lot worse after the storm
“As regards the recent flood risk the key point was in respect of Storm Ciara. Other than the fact that prevailing water levels in the River Barrow were very low in the period immediately prior to Storm Ciara, there would have been considerable additional flooding in Mountmellick as a result of that storm,” he said in a statement after Storm Ciara.
Data gathering, data analysis and design work is ongoing in respect of the proposed Mountmellick Flood Relief Scheme. This will continue until the first quarter of 2021, following which an application for planning consent for the preferred Flood Relief Scheme will be made to An Bord Pleanala.