Leitrim County Council has spent three days carrying out emergency works to raise the level of a flooded road along the banks of Lough Reane, near Fenagh. A number of families were cut off from the main road last week and local reports said that water on the lake had risen to its ‘highest level’ in living memory.
Water levels are now dangerously close to homes with water just metres from the front door of one property. Although the council have raised Tully Lane, local resident Seamus Ellis said the “water is still rising” and Aughavadden Road is still “completely sealed off.”
Mr Ellis said many families have had to resort to using boats to get through the floods for work, school and animal maintenance. According to Mr Ellis “80 loads of stone” have been put on the road over the past two years and yet the water is now at “it’s highest level yet.”
Ellis said one man is living alone and is cut off from the road, while children have had to use boats to get to school, he said the issue has to raise “health and safety concerns.” While 18 families have been impacted by the floods, over 20 farmers are having issues accessing land and animals. Seamus Ellis said some of the land has been “flooded all year round” and is resulting in “financial hardship” for farmers.
Residents in the area met with Minister of State with special responsibilty for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Brian Hayes TD, last November in a bid to highlight their concerns over ongoing flooding in the area. At the time he confirmed that, once the Council had made a submission for funding for a hydrological study on the area, his department would ensure a “quick turnaround” on the application. He said that the Council could expect work to be carried on the study in the first three months of this year.
Speaking at the recent Council meeting, councillors Gordon Hughes and Caillian Ellis both stressed the importance of dealing with the issue, pointing out that 18 families were being directly impacted by the ongoing flooding and some families were resorting to boating children into Fenagh for school. Cllr Ellis said that he was very disappointed that no funding had been provided to start the study, to date. “The only solution to this problem will be to release the water from Lough Reane into another lake to alleviate the flooding. We need action now,” he said.
Cllr Gordon Hughes said that he had spoken with the Minister and had been assured that an announcement would be forthcoming on funding within the next 10 days. He praised the Council for their timely action in raising the level of the roadway at the end of last week, but said that a long term solution had to be found. “Even though work has previously been carried out at this location to heighten the road, due to record high levels the water mark has passed the previous highest point,” he said.
Mr Ellis praised the work of Councillors Caillian Ellis and Gordon Hughes, and he hopes that funding for the study can be made available soon, but he said “while they are looking into it - we are stuck in it.”