Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Flooding: Titanic Belfast and Odyssey area at risk in latest tidal surge warning

Tidal surge expected to hit at 2.44pm on Monday as winds of up to 70mph batter Northern Ireland

Volunteers give out sandbags at Inverary Community Centre in the Sydenham area.
Volunteers give out sandbags at Inverary Community Centre in the Sydenham area earlier this month
FLASHBACK: Flooding on Holywood Promenade earlier in January Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
FLASHBACK: Flooding on Holywood Promenade earlier in January Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
In Old Warrenpoint Road, Newry, the O'Hare family get help from a neighbour to deliver sand sandbags to the house. NewRayPics
In Old Warrenpoint Road, Newry, the O'Hare family get help from a neighbour to deliver sand sandbags to the house. NewRayPics

The area around Titanic Belfast and Odyssey Arena is at risk from flooding, according to the latest weather warnings from police and the Met Office.

Winds will combine with high tides to produce "large over-topping waves and another tidal surge" around the Northern Ireland Coastline on Monday, say Met Office forecasters.

The east coast is particularly at risk and emergency services and other agencies are taking precautions to reduce flooding in the following areas:

  • Sailortown Area, Belfast which includes Clarendon Dock, Belfast Harbour Marina, Dock Street and the area surrounding the Odyssey
  • Sydenham, East Belfast
  • Corporation Street, Belfast
  • Ards Peninsula

The tidal surge is expected to hit at 2.44pm on Monday as winds of up to 70mph batter the province.

Motorists have been advised not to use any car parks along the Portaferry Road to Newtownards and Belfast, and to watch out for debris swept onto the road by the sea as well as standing water.

Police commander in charge of the multi-agency response, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “We continue to respond to the changing weather conditions with our partnership agencies and plans are in place to deal with the impact these changing conditions may have on the community.

“As a precaution we are planning for the risk of flooding in a number of areas."

There is also a risk of flooding in some northern and eastern coastal towns and to parts of South Down.

On Sunday a number of centres opened to distribute sandbags to local communities in Newtownards, Portaferry, Ballywalter, Castlewellan and Downpatrick.

“Please note that the distribution site at Inverary Avenue (Sydenham) will close today (Sunday) at 4pm, however if required an alternative site will be opened tomorrow morning and details will be released through the media," said ACC Martin.

“While there is a reduced risk of flooding at Belfast City Centre, as a precaution we have advised a number of underground car parks including Victoria Square to close tomorrow. We would encourage the public not to use any underground car parks in the area. Please exercise caution and listen to the media for updates.

“We would urge the public to remain on alert and to be mindful of their own safety in particular to avoid coastal paths, be wary of possibly unstable harbour defences and to drive with extreme caution as many roads continue to be affected by surface water.”

Those in need of advice or support can call the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100 or the police non-emergency line on 0845 600 8000.

East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton said householders in Sydenham needed to remain vigilant, and urged people not to take sandbags that had been laid down by the authorities.

“The Sydenham area is the area most at risk and householders need to continue to be vigilant," he said.

"Sandbag barriers constructed by the statutory bodies along the Connswater River must be left in place to prevent flooding. Sand bags will be available from Inverary Community Centre and residents needing assistance can get help at the centre.

"The community spirit that so successfully saw us through this problem, with neighbour helping neighbour, needs to continue."

70 flood warnings issued across UK

The Environment Agency has issued 70 flood warnings covering every region of the UK, urging people to take immediate action as flooding was "expected".

The agency estimated that about 220 properties have been flooded so far, miles of coastline have been battered and roads and fields across the country left under water.

The transport network has also been hit, with roads closed and trains delayed or cancelled in many areas.

First Great Western encouraged passengers travelling in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire today to begin their journeys as early as possible due to the risk of flooding.

The Thames barrier will be in operation again tonight to protect people and property along the river.

In Oxford a 47-year-old man died when his mobility scooter fell from a flooded path into a river.

Thames Valley Police were called to Osney Lock near the city centre at 6.30pm yesterday after receiving a report that the man had fallen into the river.

A police spokesman said the man's death was being treated as unexplained but was not believed to be suspicious. His next-of-kin has been informed.

The Environment Agency (EA) urged communities in Dorset and Oxfordshire to remain prepared for "significant flooding" in the lower reaches of the Thames, Dorset Stour and Frome rivers.

Ongoing flooding is expected on the Somerset Levels and rivers in the South East, including the Severn, remain "very high" after recent rainfall.

Jonathan Day, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, warned that the risk of flooding continued into next week.

He said: "Although high tides are now falling, there remains a risk of coastal flooding, especially on the south and west coasts.

"In addition, wet conditions have left the ground saturated in many areas, increasing the risk of river and surface water flooding.

"We would urge people to be prepared by checking their flood risk, signing up to free flood warnings and keeping an eye on the latest flood updates via the EA website and Twitter.

"Environment Agency teams remain out on the ground across the country and will continue to work around the clock to protect communities at risk."

David Cameron pledged that lessons will be learned from the flooding and insisted that the Environment Agency has been given the funding to protect frontline services.

Mr Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We're spending £2.3 billion in this four-year period on flood defences which is more than the previous four-year period.

"We have also enabled them to access other sources of money - partnership funding - so I think we're going to see record levels of spending on flood defences and we have guaranteed that right out into 2020 so they can really plan for the future."

Mr Cameron went on: "I think we're doing a lot more things better.

"I think flood warnings are better, I think the flood defences have protected tens of thousands of homes but there will always be lessons to learn and I'll make sure they are learned."

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee today.

He said: "Surface water flooding remains likely in some parts of the UK and the Government remains ready to respond and continue to help communities.

"When clean-up operations are able to begin, then assistance will be provided."

Searches resumed in south Devon for missing 18-year-old university student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather - with more than 100 people volunteering to look for him.

Two people have already died in the storms. A 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year's Eve night and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.

Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away as dozens put their lives at risk by going to coastal areas to watch as the storm brought waves of up to 40ft high crashing onto land.

A man and child were almost swept away by a huge wave at Mullion Cove in Cornwall as they peered over the sea wall to watch the raging sea and elsewhere in Cornwall vehicles driving on a coastal road were swamped and almost washed away by a tidal surge.

Police pulled a man from the sea who had been drinking at Towan Beach, Newquay, after he had ignored warnings about the fierce storms.

In Aberystwyth, Dyfed, a man was rescued by lifeboat after he became trapped when photographing waves from a harbour jetty.

The coastal surge in recent days has tested over 3,000km (1,864 miles) of flood defences in England and more than 205,000 properties have been protected, according to the Environment Agency.

Meanwhile, police in Dorset were warning that the potential for flooding in the county was "critical" with more rain forecast.

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for the county and forecast a significant weather front moving across the area which is expected to cause more disruption.

Coastal areas are likely to suffer further aggravation from gusts of wind expected to reach 60mph to 70mph.

Dorset Police said the A354 Blandford to Salisbury road was already closed.

"The situation in Dorset is considered to be critical with ground water and river water levels already being at saturation point with more rain - expected to be heavy at times - forecast for Monday through to Wednesday," a force spokeswoman said.

"Motorists are reminded to take extra care and are strongly advised not make unnecessary journeys - there will be significant standing water in many carriageways.

"The A354 from Blandford to Salisbury has already been closed causing considerable disruption to road users who are advised to avoid the area.

"There is a potential for Preston Beach road in Weymouth to close at 9pm when high tide is expected to cause flooding.

"Should it close, it will remain closed for at least two hours and will only re-open when it is considered safe.

"Motorists are advised not to ignore road closure signs."

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