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Storm Desmond: 'This time, everything from the roof down will be lost here, that's three years of work just gone'

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 07/12/2015

Ciaran McGlinchey was caught up in the Clady flooding
Ciaran McGlinchey was caught up in the Clady flooding
Tommy McNulty and Barbara McGhee were caught up in the Clady flooding

Cut off from neighbouring towns, the villagers of Clady battled swamp-like conditions yesterday evening as they prepared for a second night out of their homes.

Nestling beside the River Finn, the small Co Tyrone village was powerless on Saturday after Storm Desmond's heavy rain submerged the 18th century Clady Bridge for the first time in living memory and floodwater engulfed homes.

Up to six feet of water devastated several businesses in the village and affected around 14 households, with one elderly man having to be rescued from his home with a mechanical digger on Saturday.

The main road from Strabane to Clady remained impassable yesterday evening, but residents were hopeful that the receding water levels would allow them to assess the full damage this morning.

The pungent smell of oil from damaged heating tanks filled the air yesterday as volunteers struggled in slippery conditions to direct motorists away from the "lake" that had accumulated at the bottom of Clady Main Street.

A picnic table from the nearby Smugglers Inn floated past battered fuel drums and scaffolding boards, as the water marks on living room windows showed just how far it had risen.

Tommy McNulty, whose father Alec was rescued from his home on the digger, said that his dad was unwell and hadn't wanted to leave his home despite the flood warnings.

"He is fine now, he was a bit distressed," said Mr McNulty. "He is 84 and has Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

"We couldn't assess the damage at the time, but a hospital bed in the house has been damaged. You are talking thousands of pounds.

"The local community has rallied round and helped where they could."

Motorists struggle through Storm Desmond floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim
Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Motorists struggle through Storm Desmond floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 4/12/2015 Motorists struggle threw floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim. Warnings for heavy rain and strong winds have been issued as Storm Desmond is to hit across Northern Ireland and the Republic this weekend. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 4/12/2015 Motorists struggle threw floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim. Warnings for heavy rain and strong winds have been issued as Storm Desmond is to hit across Northern Ireland and the Republic this weekend. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 4/12/2015 Motorists struggle threw floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim. Warnings for heavy rain and strong winds have been issued as Storm Desmond is to hit across Northern Ireland and the Republic this weekend. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Rescue workers help a lady and her dog in Carlisle after heavy rain from Storm Desmond tore through Britain
Carlisle suffered with some of the worst flooding
Two youths dive into the sea at Salthill in a video that has been viewed online over a million times
A driver abandons his stricken car near Maguiresbridge
Flooding in Co Tyrone on Sunday after Storm Desmond brought sustained periods of heavy rainfall to Northern Ireland. Pic: Martin McKeown.
Flooding in Co Tyrone on Sunday after Storm Desmond brought sustained periods of heavy rainfall to Northern Ireland. Pic: Martin McKeown.
Flooding in Co Tyrone on Sunday after Storm Desmond brought sustained periods of heavy rainfall to Northern Ireland. Pic: Martin McKeown.
Flooding in Co Tyrone on Sunday after Storm Desmond brought sustained periods of heavy rainfall to Northern Ireland. Pic: Martin McKeown.
The Boudoir designer boutique in Dungannon which was damaged by flooding during Storm Desmond. Pic: Matt Mackey/Press Eye.
Anita Ross at the Boudoir designer boutique in Dungannon which was flooded during Storm Desmond. Pic: Matt Mackey/Press Eye.
The Boudoir designer boutique in Dungannon which was damaged by flooding during Storm Desmond. Pic: Matt Mackey/Press Eye.
Storm Desmond brought high winds and choppy waters to Galway
Emergency workers use a boat in floodwater on Warwick Road in Carlisle, after heavy rain from Storm Desmond tore through Britain, bringing strong winds and heavy rain which caused Cumbria to declare a major incident. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
Emergency workers use a boat in floodwater on Warwick Road in Carlisle to rescue a resident
Flooded roads in Appleby in Cumbria, as Storm Desmond hit the UK
Motorists struggle through floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim, amid warnings of heavy rain and strong winds as Storm Desmond arrives in Northern Ireland this weekend
Motorists struggle through floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim, amid warnings of heavy rain and strong winds as Storm Desmond arrives in Northern Ireland this weekend
Motorists struggle through floods in Glenavy, Co Antrim, amid warnings of heavy rain and strong winds as Storm Desmond arrives in Northern Ireland this weekend

Among those surveying the damage was Ciaran McGlinchey (27), from the First Stop Shop. His business also flooded three weeks ago following bad weather.

"This time there was six feet of water," he said. "Everything has gone: tills, lottery machines. It is disheartening. This time it is everything from the roof down that has to go. It is just three years of work gone."

Ronan Corry (28) was also devastated by the floodwater that entered his living room and kitchen.

"My TV was destroyed, as were sofas, chairs and the washing machine," he said.

"I will have to lift the carpets. I wouldn't know where to start about how I feel. I thought I was going to be sick when I looked into the house."

Anthony Bogle (35) waded through water at waist level yesterday to visit households on higher ground stranded by the surrounding deluge. "We wanted to make sure they had the bare necessities," he said. "One woman was locked in with a grandchild and elderly relative.

"I'm in the Irish Army and my colleagues were called in (to help with flooding over the border). I could not get across to them, so I decided to stay and help in my own village."

The unaffected Kirk's Bar became a meeting point for residents yesterday. Among those in the pub was Barbara McGhee.

She was unaffected by the floods, but said she was shocked to see the damage when she woke. "I am above the fields and could see the water was right up the fences," she said. "It's the worst I've ever seen."

Most residents said they didn't believe anything could be done to stop the flooding given the village's riverside location, but some called for the waterway to be dredged.

Marcus O'Neill and Barry Lafferty from the Clady Cross Community and Development Association, who had issued warnings about the storm, thanked everyone who had helped so far, including the Community Rescue Service and Foyle Search and Rescue.

"People will work together to help each other here," said Mr O'Neill. "We expect to see the agencies here in the morning and are looking for volunteers to help with the clear-up."

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