Belfast Telegraph

Angry residents vent flood fury

By Adrian Rutherford

Angry residents confronted Environment Minister Alex Attwood as he visited a Co Tyrone village left devastated by flooding for the fourth time in recent years.

Mr Attwood faced demands for urgent action as he arrived in Beragh yesterday, hours after torrential rain wreaked havoc and forced families to move out of their flood-damaged homes.

It came as a clean-up operation got under way across Northern Ireland after another night and day of heavy downpours.

On Monday night 18 people, including two children, had to be rescued by boats after a river burst its banks in Beragh, leaving some residents trapped.

Mr Attwood cancelled a meeting in London to visit the scene yesterday, where he faced a barrage of questions from angry residents, some of whom do not expect to be back in their homes before Christmas.

They included Valerie McKinley, whose elderly mother, Cecelia Kyle, had to flee her home as the floodwater poured in.

"For a 76-year-old woman living on her own to have to deal with this twice in a week and three times in three years is just not good enough," she told the minister.

Another resident, Anne Short, complained that drains had not been emptied before Monday night's devastating deluge.

Others said planning permission should not have been given for homes to be built on a well-known flood plain, while there was also criticism that Stormont departments have not done enough to address long-term problems.

Meanwhile, 42 patients were evacuated from three mental health wards in the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital site in Omagh to other Western Trust facilities, after the level of a nearby river rose.

The rail line between Portadown and Newry was also closed and an electricity substation in Newry was threatened.

In Clogher, a culvert on the Augher Point Road collapsed in the torrential rain, causing a six-foot deep crater to form in the road, according to one eye witness.

The Republic of Ireland was also badly affected with two bodies recovered in separate flooding incidents, including that of missing garda officer Ciaran Jones (left).

The 25-year-old off-duty officer had been attempting to warn motorists of rising river levels near his Co Wicklow home when he was swept away.

The second body was that of a woman found by police in a flooded basement in the Parnell Road area of Dublin.

A major emergency plan for the region remains in place.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph