More heavy rain forecast as flood waters remain at critical levels around the country

President Higgins will visit flood affected communities in Galway and Wexford tomorrow

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Council worker checking the flood gates on the River Barrow, which have so far managed to keep the river out. Image:

Met Eireann says at this stage even a 'normal' amount of rainfall could cause further flooding in certain areas.

A yellow alert for rainfall is in effect for Cork and Kerry, as showers today follow heavy rainfall last night.

It comes as President Michael D Higgins has said he will visit flood affected communities in South Galway and Enniscorthy, Co Wexford tomorrow.

The National Emergency Co-Ordination Group today heard that the country remains in a severe flooding situation, with a need for defences to be maintained.

Levels in the Shannon and other rivers remain high, and the OPW reports significant rises in the past 48 hours in river levels in parts of Munster.

People are also being urged to plan their journeys if they are returning to work, school or college tomorrow - while parents are being advised to check if their child's school or its surrounding area has been affect by flooding.

Chairman of today's National Emergency Co-Ordination group's meeting, Keith Leonard, says around 260 homes have been affected, while around 230 remain threatened. 

The Agriculture Minister was met with anger and frustration as he visited a community affected by recent flooding in Clonlara, Co Clare earlier.

Simon Coveney says he understands the anger of people who've had their homes and businesses destroyed by ongoing flooding, and says they won't be forgotten by the Government.

Speaking to Clare FM, he says he will relay the concerns and frustrations of those affected, at next week's Cabinet meeting:

ESB says it is maintaining the flow of water through Parteen Weir at 470 cubic metres per second today, but it may increase the flow to 500 as levels in Lough Derg inch towards peak 2009 levels.

Downstream in Counties Clare and Limerick the local emergency services, Defence Forces and local councils are continuing to assist communities at risk of flooding.

In Co Tipperary some residents in the Kilganey area of Clonmel were evacuated last night, as the local authority prepared for the River Suir to burst its banks.

However, the Council says a number of families opted to stay in their homes.

This morning the Council's crisis management team says water levels are stabilising, after overnight rainfall was not as heavy as expected.

The situation will be monitored on an hourly basis today, and additional mobile pumps are being deployed to the North Quay in Carrick-on-Suir to deal with an ongoing issue.

The water level in the River Suir remained at 3.8 metres overnight, but it is feared it could reach the critical level of 4 metres.

Fine Gael Councillor for Clonmel is Michael Murphy. He says 18 affected families were moved to the Clonmel Park Hotel, and that it will be almost impossible to access affected houses if the Suir reaches critical level:

Meanwhile in Westmeath the River Shannon has reached a new record level.

The County Council says it is concerned that at least 100 homes will flood if waters burst defences in Athlone.

Director of Services Barry Kehoe says they are grateful that the army has now joined them in their efforts, as it takes some of the pressure off volunteers who have been working with the Council over the last three weeks:

In a statement yesterday evening, the Defence Forces said there are 110 personnel deployed around the country - including Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Limerick and Galway - with the majority filling and distributing sandbags or manning pumps.

They add that there are more soldiers ready to deploy on one hours notice if requested.