Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland homeowners hit by flash floods to receive emergency funding

By Adrian Rutherford

Homes affected by torrential rain will receive a £1,000 emergency payment after flash flooding brought chaos to parts of Northern Ireland.

Almost a month's rain fell in the space of a few hours in some areas on Tuesday night. Omagh, Moneymore and Magherafelt were particularly badly affected.

The Fire and Rescue Service said it received 33 calls from those areas between 6pm and midnight on Tuesday.

Some residents in Omagh said they found it difficult to access sandbags as the water rose.

About 20 houses were flooded in Magherafelt.

A pensioner had to be helped from her home, while another woman was rescued from her car after a sudden deluge.

However, there was criticism of Government agencies.

Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone said there was a "total lack of any emergency co-ordination" in response to the flooding.

He claimed Transport NI, Rivers Agency and NI Water officials failed to turn up despite Fire Service staff reporting the flooding as a priority situation.

"Each of the absentee statutory service providers effectively abandoned people in the middle of a flood and left them to fend for themselves.

"That is an inexcusable failing," he said.

"I was with families who were trying to locate sandbags to protect their homes only to be frustrated by the unavailability of agency staff."

However, Mr McGlone's comments were rejected by each of the agencies.

A spokesperson from the Department for Regional Development, which oversees Transport NI, said: "Sandybraes was one of 23 individual locations where DRD was asked for assistance following a particularly heavy deluge across the Mid Ulster area between the hours of 7.30pm and 10.30pm.

"DRD assisted in Sandybraes through the provision of sandbags co-ordinated through NI Fire and Rescue and also to individual residents who requested them directly at the local DRD depot. DRD also delivered additional sandbags directly to Sandybraes around midnight."

A spokesman from the Rivers Agency said it responded to a number of calls for assistance.

"While the agency did not receive any calls for assistance from the Magherafelt area, staff were in the locality checking our critical infrastructure," he said. NI Water said it had received "a number of calls and requests for assistance within the Magherafelt area, and attended where necessary".

"As expected, our wastewater assets in the town experienced a surge in activity during the weather event, but these continued to function well under extreme conditions," it said.

NI Water said any necessary clean-up operations were "being conducted as a matter of priority".

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: "My department will reimburse councils for the £1,000 payments to individual householders, and for the direct and indirect costs of providing practical assistance and advice.

"I and my Executive colleagues want to help those most severely affected by the flooding to get back to normal as quickly as possible."

Factfile

The MeteoGroup forecasting agency said parts of Northern Ireland got between 50mm and 60mm of rain on Tuesday night – the average monthly rainfall is 79mm.

However, a forecaster said that while the rain was heavy, it was not particularly unusual for the time of year.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph