The Irish Red Cross has appealed for donations to aid victims of the current flooding crisis.

The aid organisation said its volunteers were working to provide food and blankets in the towns and areas most affected.

Parts of the midwest were preparing for a possible increase in flood levels along the lower Shannon, after the ESB said that it was discharging more water from Parteen Weir on Lough Derg.

It said in a statement this evening there will be no increase in the current discharge rate overnight. The situation will be monitored overnight, it added.

Gardaí in Limerick say some houses in the Ardnacrusha area have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

At Athlone Lock, water levels are now 50cm over the highest level on record. Levels there increased by 6cm overnight.

In Athlone, there has been a call for assistance from outside for businesses and residents affected by the flooding.

Several more houses have been flooded on the west side of the town and near the Golden Island Shopping Centre water levels are also rising and several houses and farms have been cut off.

St Aloysius College on the Deerpark Road in Athlone has been closed until next Monday due to flooding.

Flood waters remain high in the Springfield area of Clonlara in Co Clare, where eight houses have been evacuated.

The water is over one metre high in some places and local authorities warn that more families may have to leave their homes if levels rise again.

Waterways Ireland has said that Shannon water levels are now unmanageable.

Spokesperson Éanna Rowe said that the levels are unprecedented and one third of the year's rain has fallen during November.

Roads closed in Galway

Elsewhere, flooding conditions worsened in parts of Co Galway last night as water levels rose in an area between Gort and the coastal town of Kinvara.

Motorists who had been using the road between Gort and Kinvara to avoid flooded sections of the main Galway-Limerick road will today be forced to make longer and more difficult detours.

Huge volumes of water are now flowing across the main N18 road at Kiltartan. This flood is now threatening houses between Kiltartan and Kinvara.

As many as 200 families are still unable to return to their homes in Ballinasloe and its hinterland.

The bridge across the river Shannon at Portumna is operating on a restricted single lane, allowing motorists to travel directly between Galway and Co Tipperary.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has predicted the flooding crisis will get worse before it gets better.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with the National Crisis Management Committee this afternoon, Mr Cowen said that while water was receding in some areas there were growing problems in other places, particularly Athlone.

Mr Cowen added that while nobody was suggesting that the €10m relief package was the full answer, it represented a start by the Government.

Environment Minister John Gormley said it was too early to say the extent to which bad planning contributed to the flooding, but it was clear that building on flood plains was not a good thing and planning advice had been ignored.

Iarnród Éireann said that the flooding at Kiltartan has delayed the opening of the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor on the Ennis to Athenry line. It had been planned to open the line in January to provide direct Limerick to Galway services.

Farmers in Co Mayo are reporting severe flooding of farmland between Foxford and Ballina.

Most roads are open in the area, but the farmland is completely flooded one local farmer reported. Flood levels in the midwest are much the same as yesterday.

In Cork, more than 130 people employed at the five-star Kingsley Hotel - the ground floor of which was flooded last Friday - have been told their jobs are safe, after its owners pledged to begin refurbishment work immediately.

18,000 homes in Cork are still without fresh water. Work is continuing to repair Cork's water treatment plant, city council engineers hope to have all supplies restored by Sunday.