Day of misery in Beragh as families survey their sodden belongings
A huge clean-up operation was under way yesterday in a Co Tyrone village swamped by the worst floods in living memory.
Parts of Beragh were left submerged after the Cloughfin River burst its banks, sending a deluge sweeping through the streets and leading to widespread damage.
Boats were deployed to ferry residents to safety at the height of the flooding.
The full devastation from the previous night's downpours became apparent as dawn broke yesterday, revealing neighbourhoods destroyed by floodwater.
The most dramatic scene was at the Beragh Red Knights GAA complex, where the club house stood out like an island in a lake of floodwater.
The deluge came pouring into two nearby housing estates, The Meadows and Riverdale.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood arrived shortly after midday to see the devastation and was met by a group of angry and distressed residents who said they felt abandoned.
He visited several of the homes destroyed by flooding, including one belonging to Jeffrey Irwin, who lives with his girlfriend, Cheryl Morton, and daughter, Lexi.
Earlier, he described how the flood had turned his home into a swimming pool. "The water came pouring in and just wrecked everything," an emotional Jeffrey said as he stood in his devastated living room surrounded by soaking, muddy belongings.
"It destroyed the furniture, wrecked the kitchen and ruined the heating system."
Elaine Moses was one of 18 people evacuated by boat.
She was at home with her partner, Darren Armstrong, and two children, Jodi (9) and Mia Lily, aged four, when the water came seeping inside.
"The water just kept rising and rising - there was nothing anyone could do," she said.
"We have two children and even to carry them out would have been impossible. In the end, a boat came to help us."
Among the rescuers was Bert Wilson, who lives in the village.
He carried a 12-month-old baby to safety after flood water trapped one family.
"The family called me and handed me their baby through the window," Mr Wilson said.
"We managed to get everyone out but the child was terrified. It was dreadful."