Belfast Telegraph

Farmers face ruin as flash floods hit Fermanagh again

A Fermanagh farmer says he could be facing financial ruin after heavy rain and flash flooding destroyed a recent harvest and expensive farming equipment.

About three inches of rain fell in 36 hours by yesterday, causing the Colebrooke River near Lisnaskea to burst its banks.

Up to 30 properties, including a few homes, were affected by the flooding, as well as the Mullynascarthy Caravan Park.

Last year many parts of Fermanagh lay under water for days following some of the heaviest rainfall in recent years.

The freak weather had a devastating effect on farmers and businesses who all suffered huge financial losses. And while the total cost of yesterday’s flooding is still unknown, farmer Barry Read has estimated the incident has cost him around £80,000.

The farmer runs an agricultural contract business in the Ballindarragh area and finished his annual harvest last week.

Around 200 tonnes of grain and 100 bails of straw, which had an estimated value of £30,000, have been destroyed. Machinery worth around £40,000 has also been damaged as a result of the freak weather.

Mr Read said the loss could mean the end of his business.

“For a businessman like myself, it may just be the final nail in the coffin,” he said. “I have spent the past 12 months growing crops and had only got them gathered in last Wednesday then to have them destroyed in one fell swoop.

“A £30,000 loss from the grain alone will probably be detrimental and fatal for my business.

“I would employ three to four people and their jobs will probably go because financially I cannot spend 12 months growing crops to get them to the point of sale and have them devastated because of floods.

“This could be the final nail in the coffin.”

Mr Read said that while nothing could have been done at the precise moment to stop the river bursting its banks, he did lay some of the blame on the Government for failing to dredge the river.

He said for the past decade farmers in the region have been campaigning to have the Colebrooke, which acts as a feeder into Lough Erne, dredged.

And he said because of that —and further forecasts of rain –that he feared he property could be flooded again.

A DARD spokesman said the Colebrooke River was inspected on Monday when water levels were rising and was found to be running freely and discharging into Upper Lough Erne.

“Presently full generation and spilling is occurring at Cliff and Ballyshannon to ensure that the Erne system can drain as freely as practicable,” the spokesman said.

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