Belfast Telegraph

Month of misery for flood-ravaged village in Northern Ireland

Families in Eglinton seek more help to repair homes

By Leona O'Neill

Exactly one month after floods ravaged the village of Eglinton, the community is still struggling to pick up the pieces.

More than 100 family homes were devastated in the village after a heavy thunderstorm and torrential rain left a trail of destruction across the north west on August 22.

Residents of St Canice's Park and Dunverne Gardens in the Co Londonderry village saw several feet of water flood their homes in seconds.

Homeowners had to be rescued by fire service officers and Foyle Search and Rescue personnel in boats.

Yesterday, the water had receded but frustration, anger and sadness was rising.

Residents are staying in temporary accommodation across the north west. Skips full of furniture line the street and, bar the workmen, the streets once bustling with family life are eerily empty. One man sitting outside his gutted St Canice's Park home said he was "simply heartbroken". He had shared the house with his mother, who died just two months ago.

The flood waters destroyed the only photos and mementos he had of her. "My house is completely gutted," he said, not wishing to give his name. "I lived in the house with my mother.

"She died in June from cancer. Everything in the house was hers. It was all destroyed. Everything I had of hers was ruined - I couldn't save a thing. Photos were just wiped out, all those memories I can't get back.

"I didn't have insurance. I don't even have a clue where to start. All I have now is four walls. It's like I'm starting all over again from scratch. People are getting angry. At the start this seemed like a big issue, but now it's like we've been forgotten about."

His neighbour, James Feeney, said that the community of Eglinton are "grieving", traumatised and living in fear that the flooding will come back.

"I've lived in my home for 18 years," he said. "Seeing it the way it is now is heartbreaking. In the first few days people here were running on adrenaline, now they are just numb.

"I have got up out of bed at two o'clock and come down to look around my house with a flash-lamp, at everything gone, and wonder what happened. I look around at my neighbours putting everything they own in a skip and it makes me so, so sad. It's like we are grieving.

"When someone comes out to put their sofa or a bed in the skip the neighbours disappear inside because it's an upsetting personal occasion and there are tears. People's lives are in these skips."

Jacqueline McCready lives in nearby Dunverne Gardens.

She said when she called her insurance company after the flood they told her that they had "changed their policy in August" and that she was no longer covered. Jacqueline will have to pay for all repairs herself.

"When I went back to the house a few days after the floods I was in shock," she said.

"I had moved to that house when I was three. I raised my family there. I have so many happy memories raising six children in that house. And in a matter of minutes it was all gone, irreplaceable family photos, everything.

"It has been a horrendous few weeks. The Salvation Army have been great, they brought us food and clothes. Three days after the flood they brought us toothpaste and soap and I realised that I hadn't cleaned my teeth in three days. I was just running on autopilot and shock.

"I got up in the morning and just got stuck in to cleaning, and I was so tired in the evening that I just fell into bed."

DUP councillor Graham Warke, who has been helping on the ground for the last four weeks, said much more support is needed.

"It is absolutely heartbreaking here," he said.

"I'm speaking to people out here on the ground, crying, just broken.

"People have lost everything, and they are facing a lot of financial problems as well as all the other misery.

"Seeing families suffer like this and knowing that there is no easy fix and that they are going to be still out for Christmas is heartbreaking. I wish I had a magic wand.

"On the outside world, it seems like everything has moved on. But a month after the flooding happened, it hasn't moved on here.

"There is a lot of support needed here for a lot of families."

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