Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Flood victims are right to be angry

Prepare for the worst that the weather can throw at you.

That would seem to be a good motto for everyone in government to live by after another day when scores of homes and businesses were flooded in various parts of Northern Ireland. It appears that the province is now experiencing extreme weather conditions more frequently than in the past, often with quite disastrous results. Remember last year's big freeze when people had to queue up for bottled water in scenes reminiscent of some Third World country after supplies were disrupted by burst mains.

But more often it is too much water which is the problem. Burst river banks, blocked gulleys or insufficient drainage allied to abnormally heavy rainfall led to yesterday's widespread flooding. While some may argue that the power of nature is difficult to subdue, for some householders and business people in places like the village of Beragh in Tyrone this was the second time in a few years that they had suffered flooding.

Quite understandably many of those people are angry and are questioning if everything that could have been done to protect their homes or businesses was in fact done. Stormy weather and heavy rainfall are not total surprises and surely contingency plans should be in place. No-one denies that workmen on the ground do a marvellous job in trying to help householders, but there does appear to be a lack of effective strategic planning to prevent at least some of the flooding.

There should be an holistic approach to the problem ranging from planning policies to ensure that homes are not built on known floodplains to environment measures such as building up river banks and upgrading drainage systems and culverts to cope securely with large volumes of water. Home owners have every right to feel frustrated when they see their possessions destroyed time after time with seemingly little being done to protect their properties. It is up to the politicians to give them reassurance that their plight is being addressed.

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