Belfast Telegraph

Belfast avoids major flooding as tide peaks

By David Young

Strong wind and high tides have caused flooding in coastal areas of Northern Ireland but fears Belfast city centre would be severely affected proved unfounded as the tide peaked.

Much of the effort to reinforce water defences in Belfast was focused in the docks area, with a number of roads set to be closed to traffic as emergency services prepared for a tidal surge.

The tide peaked at 12.10pm and water levels have since been  falling.

Last night residents of Sydenham in east Belfast were told to pack a bag and prepare for potential evacuation. Sandbags were distributed to the public through the night while the authorities built up river defences.

But this morning the PSNI said the densely-packed neighbourhood may avoid "serious flooding".

The police spokesman said: "The most recent meteorological report gives us a greater degree of confidence that the extensive planning and preparation work undertaken yesterday may help to prevent any serious flooding in the Sydenham area."

He said the risk of flooding had also been downgraded for the waterside Victoria Square shopping centre.

"The Victoria underground car park is being closed as a precaution and we would encourage people to not park in any other underground car parks in the area," he said.

"Whilst the risk for this area is reduced, we would encourage people to exercise caution and listen to media updates."

Police said assessments for Londonderry, Killough, Newcastle, Newry, Larne and Strangford areas also showed a slightly reduced flood risk from what had previously been expected.

The PSNI is co-ordinating a major planning operation involving many public services.

The Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the Rivers Agency, Belfast Health Trust, Road Service, Northern Ireland Water, Northern Ireland Electricity, British Telecom and travel operator Translink are co-operating.

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