Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Dejected householders begin the long clean-up after floods

John O'Hagan tries to bail flood water from his home in the Dublin Road estate in Antrim town yesterday morning. Much of the town was flooded after the Sixmilewater river burst its banks following Saturday's torrential rain.

Residents of Carrington Street in east Belfast are counting the cost after their homes were flooded for the second time in recent months.

Mother-of-two Amanda Hegarty (39) was putting on her seventh load of washing yesterday afternoon after clothes and furniture coverings were ruined by flood water. She had to throw out carpets because they were so badly damaged.

A computer she bought for her seven-year-old son George was damaged by the water which came in the front and back and sloshed around half a foot up her walls.

“The rain started yesterday morning and just went on all day. We didn’t get sandbags until very late.

“We were flooded about seven or eight months ago. I got compensation of £1,000 right away and it was useful for replacing things.

“If we get compensation again it will be useful, but I just want to be moved out of here. I am going to go down to BIH [housing assocation] on Monday to demand that I am moved. Last time there were floods they told me it wouldn’t happen again.”

Flat dweller Edmund Harrison was cleaning his floors of a dark, sewage-contaminated sludge. “My settee has been ruined, my floors and even my bedspread. This happens every time it rains because the drains outside fill up and flood. I have asthma, too, and the damp can’t be good for it.”

Democratic Unionist councillor Jimmy Spratt visited homes in the area but accused Roads Service and Northern Ireland Water of responding too slowly to the crisis.

Scenes similar to Carrington Street played out in other parts of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

The Meadowside estate in Antrim was flooded as the Sixmilewater River burst its banks. Residents of Maghera, Magherafelt and Tobermore took shelter in Watty Graham’s GAA club in Maghera.

In Newcastle, Co Down, 80 holidaymakers fled the Windsor Caravan site after it was flooded late on Saturday night. Down District Council set up a temporary emergency centre on the promenade where they were given shelter.

A spokesman for the council said tea, coffee, food and sleeping bags was provided for the evacuees.

“We went to the supermarkets and got all we could to help them. Nobody was particularly traumatised by what happened and they were very grateful to be looked after.

“Most people left again at 6am on Sunday morning to see how bad the damage was. Some people didn’t even have shoes on because they left their caravans in such a hurry.”

She said people believed they were the worst floods Newcastle had seen in around 30 years.

Volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle Royal National Lifeboat Institute helped evacuate people from homes in Bryansford Road in the town, where water reached waist level in some places.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Danny Kennedy was another whose carvanning was disrupted, saying he and his family had been “effectively marooned” in their caravan site in Kilkeel, Co Down. “There was severe flooding and the discharge of raw sewage on the site despite the valiant efforts of the site owner.

“It was clear that the emergency agencies were completely overwhelmed and simply unable to cope with the scale of the weather conditions they were confronted with.”

The Assembly member called for a review of roads, water and sewerage infrastructure in Northern Ireland.

The water supply to many homes in south Down was disrupted by damage to a major outlet main near Rathfriland from Fofanny Water Treatment Works.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland Water said repairs were expected to be completed by last night.

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