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Latest: Residents and businesses in Mountmellick assessing damage following flooding

Update: 2.20pm Residents and business in Mountmellick in Laois are assessing the damage following extensive flooding.

Families have been returning to their homes after being forced to leave when three rivers burst their banks during heavy rain.

The Government has announced a humanitarian flooding scheme for small businesses and sports clubs affected by the downpours.

Ministers Kevin Boxer Moran and Charlie Flanagan came to see the damage first hand.

Update 11.09: Mountmellick residents return to their homes after extensive flooding

Residents in Mountmellick in Laois are returning to their homes following extensive flooding.

The army was called in after families were forced to leave after three rivers which burst their banks during heavy rain.

Kathleen has just returned to her home in Derrycloney in Mountmellick which has been severely damaged.

She said: "I don't know where to start, I suppose we'll do one thing at a time.

"It's our I suppose, no matter what it is our house, all the kids were reared here, they come down for holidays.

"It is part of your life."

Update: 8.40am Dozens of soliders to arrive in Mountmellick to help with flooding clean up

The army has been mobilised after flooding in Co Laois.

Dozens of soliders are about to arrive in Mountmellick to help with the clean up operation.

Kieran Kehoe, Laois County Council's Director of Services says they will be providing assistance to those affected.

He said they are there to "provide assistance in relation to electricity, provide access for people in and out of houses and in relation to the continual filling of sandbags."

President Michael D Higgins has expressed his concern and sympathy for all affected.

While the local County Council has set up a support centre.

Director of Services Kieran Kehoe says their HQ is at Wolftone Court in Mountmellick town.

He said: "It is just around the corner from one of the worst affected areas.

"We have a team of people there along with the Department of Social Protection people and they will be there for people to call in, address any issues they have, give them any aid or support and help them in whatever way we can, provisions of food, provision of blankets or any other support these people may need."

Earlier: Fire and rescue crews from Offaly, Westmeath and Longford have been called in to help flood relief efforts.

Heavy rain has caused 'unprecedented' flooding in Co Laois.

Around 40 families have spent the night in hotels or with relativesafter three local rivers burst their banks in Mountmellick.

Dozens of homes and businesses were left under water following a day of torrential rain that saw flooding across parts of Munster and Leinster.

Padraig Fleming, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council says he hasn't experienced it before.

He said: "There's three major rivers leading towards Mountmellick town; the Barrow, the Oweness and the Blackwater.

"This has been unprecedented rain that I don't believe we have experienced before and it came very fast."

Dowlings pub on O'Moore Street kept its doors open last night despite having several inches of water on the floor.

Publican Junior Dowling says a bit flooding isn't enough to put off his regulars.

He said: "The last time we had a bad flood like this was 1990, previous to that was 1968

"The river Oweness burst its bank and I suppose about six or seven inches of water came in through the back door of the bar.

The best thing we can do now is open the front door, keep the place open and work away ."

Yesterday: Dozens of homes have been flooded in a Co Laois town after three rivers burst their banks.

Flash floods wreaked significant damage in Mountmellick on Wednesday as torrents of water ran through the town.

The floods poured into multiple properties.

Laois County Council triggered an emergency plan, evacuating many residents to nearby hotels.

Civil Defence and Fire Service crews were involved in the relief efforts.

All roads in the town were impassable during the height of the flooding.

The episode unfolded after sustained rainfall on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Councillor Paddy Bracken described the scenes as "mayhem and disaster".

"It's a shocking situation here in the town, never saw anything like it before," he told RTE.

"I'm a long time knocking around and I have never seen anything like this - I seen flooding in the 1990s but nothing as bad as this. It's unreal."

The council has warned residents in nearby Portarlington to take precautions against potential further flooding on Wednesday night.

Gardaí have warned people to use alternative routes if the road they are travelling on is flooded.

They have warned that people should not drive through flooded roads as even when they appear shallow it could be deeper.

AA Rescue have said many cars have been damaged by driving through floodwater.

The gardaí have warned against taking unnecessary risks stating a half foot of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult, while it can take just a half foot of rushing water to carry away a small car and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

They have told motorists to take extra care at night when it is harder to see flood dangers and drive to the road conditions.