Belfast Telegraph

Jo-Anne Dobson: Ministers 'are failing victims of flooding'

By Linda Stewart

Part of the Upper Bann constituency has effectively become an extension of Lough Neagh, Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has claimed.

The MLA says some homes and businesses in The Birches area of Portadown have now been underwater for three or four weeks, and costs are spiralling.

"At a time when both emotions and floodwaters remain high, the ministers of Agriculture, Regional Development and the Environment are collectively failing to bring help and hope to the families and farmers affected," she said.

"Parts of my constituency of Upper Bann have effectively become an extension of Lough Neagh, and it's clear from speaking with families living close to the lough that it will take many months and many millions to repair the damage.  

"It is in ministers' power to bring forward a grant scheme and I call on them yet again to bring immediate help and hope to farmers and home owners who continue to struggle to hold back the floodwaters.  

"Emotions are raw and fears high that much of their lands will become a permanent flood plain with yearly flooding becoming an unbearable reality."

"For those affected, the costs continue to spiral and we owe it to these families, some flooded out for their third and fourth week. They should not be left to shoulder an impossible financial burden alone," she said.

"This isn't management, it's madness, as the lough should have been lowered to at least create some capacity heading into the winter months.

"Many of the costs incurred are uninsurable, and to get back onto their feet they need that help to come now," the MLA added.

The Rivers Agency has said that water levels in the lough are controlled by means of flood gates at Toome, at the head of the Lower Bann river, and all five gates have been fully opened to vent flows from November 10, 2015, but it will take time for levels to fall when weather conditions improve.

Belfast Telegraph


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