Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Fermanagh suffers worst ever flooding

Chris McHugh with his son Jacob aged 14 months, on the flooded Samsonagh road near his home in Co Fermanagh
A school bus from Killyhommon Primary School, Co Fermanagh, makes its way through a flooded road
Rescue personnel conduct a door to door search for trapped people in the High St of Cockermouth

One of Northern Ireland’s top beauty spots is heading for more flooding misery with forecasters predicting a deluge of heavy rain over the weekend.

It has been reported that up to a foot of rain is expected to fall today — adding even more pressure to the drainage systems around Lough Erne where there have been 32 consecutive days of rain.

The situation has become so bad that the main Enniskillen to Dublin Road was closed and rising water cut off some parts of the county, while the flood water entered the swimming pool at the Share Centre in Lisnaskea.

David Porter from the Rivers Agency explained that water from a large part of Monaghan, Cavan and the majority of Co Fermanagh flows into Lough Erne.

He warned that although there was less rain yesterday, it will take time for the flood water from surrounding grass and peat lands to make its way into Lough Erne so water levels are expected to rise.

And with more heavy rain forecast, fears are rising that homes and properties that have so far escaped the flood water may fall victim to the record rainfall, with sandbags on offer to anyone concerned about their property.

Water levels on Lough Erne are at the highest recorded level since drainage scheme work in the 1950s, according to the Rivers Agency — which has warned things are going to get worse before they get better.

A spokesman explained: “It’s the continual rainfall. Lough Erne is really a storage system, and during this latest rainfall there has been more inflow than there is capacity for, given the outflow.

“Enniskillen Airport at St Angelo recorded that 250ml of rain fell in the last 30 days, that is three times the normal amount.

“Ballyshannon hydro electric power station and Cliff power station can take certain amount of the water away, but it has rained virtually every day for 32 days, so water levels are going up.”

He continued: “We don’t know what the future holds, but over the last 50 years nothing has been recorded like this. Even if there is less rain or no rain over the next few days, it will still take days for the flood waters to subside. “

A spokesman from the Met Office last night predicted further wet weather for Northern Ireland over the weekend and warned of more heavy showers next week.

A duty forecaster with the Met Office told the Belfast Telegraph last night: “There will be a significant amount of rainfall on Saturday, accompanied by strong to gale force southerly winds. It will become bright with blustery and heavy showers on Sunday and Monday. We are expecting more heavy rain on Tuesday.”

The floods hit other parts of the province as well — motorists were advised to avoid the Artasooly Road in Dungannon last night which was closed after a nearby river broke its banks, while flooding was also reported along the River Bann where the water poured onto low level fields.

Anyone concerned about flooding can contact the Rivers Agency helpline on 0300 200 100.

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