Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Lifeboat used to rescue flood-hit homes

Rescuers used a lifeboat to help people to safety after torrential rain left

water lapping at homeowners' waists in Northern Ireland, it was revealed today.

Rivers burst their banks, bridges were washed away and dozens of roads closed

across the province.

The RNLI lifeboat went door to door rescuing people from their homes in

Bryansford, Co Down, as waters rose.

Part of the M1 and M2 motorways remain shut and a train in the Irish Republic

derailed in the freak conditions.

Lifeboat spokesman Ian Douthwaite said: ``In some parts the water had reached

waist level and we wanted to ensure that nobody was stranded in their homes.''

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service had to help people from their

homes in Belfast and counties Down, Armagh and Antrim, with over 850 emergency

calls received.

A spokesman for the RNLI added: ``Volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle RNLI

assisted with evacuating people from their homes on August 16 during the heavy

rain and flooding in Northern Ireland.

``Eleven members of the lifeboat crew took the D class inshore lifeboat

Aldergove II and went door to door in the Bryansford Road area of Newcastle,

County Down, to ensure that residents were safe amid rising flood waters.

``The RNLI have special kit that we use with our inshore lifeboat that keeps us

dry and warm. Our lifeboat crew assisted two older people to safety from their

homes and by the time we stood down two-and-a-half hours later the water was

receding. ''

A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water, the water and sewerage provider, said

there had been enormous pressure of infrastructure, fielding over 3,000 calls.

``NI Water's major incident response team has been convened and more than fifty

teams have been dispatched throughout Northern Ireland to respond to

problems.''

``Our sympathy goes out to all those affected by today's extreme weather and we

would like to reassure the public that we are working tirelessly with all the

relevant agencies to address the situation.''

A bridge was washed away in Ballymena, Co Antrim, and there was up to 62mm of

rain in 12 hours in nearby Portglenone.

Some places saw up to three-quarters of the normal August rainfall in a single

day.

The newly-constructed Broadway underpass in Belfast was swamped by water and a

train derailed in Co Laois in the Irish Republic.

There have been several landslides, including one about one mile from the

Spelga Dam on the Slievemaman Road in Newcastle, Co Down.

The Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod, Co Antrim, was among sporting fixtures

cancelled yesterday and Carnegie Irish Premier Division football matches, were

also affected.

Northern Ireland Water said the Fofanny water treatment works in Co Down had

been damaged.

Approximately 2,000 people will experience no water and loss of press or

supply.

Sinn Fein Upper Bann Assembly member John O'Dowd said the authorities couldn't

cope with the conditions and called for compensation for homeowners.

``I also believe there needs to be an urgent review of how agencies dealt with

the floods and how support and aid was delivered to stricken homeowners and

motorist alike,'' he said.

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