A MASSIVE clean-up operation after some of the worst flooding the country has ever seen will begin in earnest this morning.
However, Met Éireann has warned that the severe weather could continue throughout the week with more heavy rain and strong winds forecast.
Further flooding is considered almost inevitable with a warning issued yesterday that the lower Shannon could also break its banks.
A special meeting of the government's Emergency Task Force was held yesterday afternoon to make plans on how to deal with the aftermath of the deluge.
Chaired by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, representatives from all major government departments, the gardaí, the army and Met Eireann attended.
Environment minister John Gormley travelled to Cork where he witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the flood and said no expense would be spared by the government to help those worst affected.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, he said he had heard "terrible personal stories" and paid tribute to the emergency services, which had been working around the clock.
In Cork, homes were evacuated and at least 18,000 houses were left without running water as a result of damage to a pumping station.
Fine Gael's Phil Hogan called for an independent inquiry into what had happened, particularly regarding the monitoring of rainfall and levels in the river Lee.
IFA president Padraig Walshe went to Galway, where flood waters had yet to recede and called for a national plan of action as tens of thousands of acres of land remained submerged.
Siptu also said yesterday that any workers involved in repair work as a result of the flooding will provide full cover on Tuesday irrespective of the day of action.
Hundreds of people were also evacuated from their homes in Galway, Clare and Tipperary with towns including Ballinasloe, Bandon, Clonakilty, Ennis, Clonmel, Gort and Carlow town particularly badly affected.
Around 175 troops were out in force using off-road trucks and flat-bottom boats to help rescue stricken householders and lay thousands of sandbags.
A further 300 personnel remained on alert throughout the day in preparation for deployment to the worst-affected areas.
Train services were also hit by the severe weather with bus transfers put in place on both the Sligo line and the Limerick to Ennis route.
No trains were operating between Wicklow and Gorey due to a landslide and train derailment early last week while normal service was resumed on the Dublin to Galway line.
Motorists right around the country were being warned to exercise caution with some counties like Roscommon urging people to postpone all unnecessary travel.
Bus services, particularly in Cork, were also affected while a race meeting at Gowran Park had to be cancelled, but not as a result of the flooding.
The track passed an early inspection to check if it was waterlogged, but fears of dangerously high winds later saw it cancelled due to concerns for horses and jockeys.
At the RDS, Ireland's test international against Fiji went ahead after consultations between the IRFU and health and safety inspectors.
The IRFU said they had been monitoring wind speeds all day and that the pitch itself was not a concern.
Ironically, the country's flood relief budget of around €70m was reduced to just €43m for 2009 due to budgetary cutbacks.
So far this year, the Office of Public Works spent €25m of the budget on major works in flood-prone towns like Ennis, Mallow, Fermoy, and Clonmel.