Belfast Telegraph

Month of rain in just few hours leads to widespread flooding across Northern Ireland

By Jane Scott

Businesses and home owners across Northern Ireland have been left counting the cost after more than a month's worth of rainfall fell within a few hours on Saturday.

An amber warning for rain and thunder had been issued for the province by the Met Office, with the wettest spell between 11am and 3pm causing problems for many.

The torrential rain caused severe flooding on the A1 Belfast to Dublin road at Dromore and also on sections of the M1, where cars were parked on the hard shoulder. The PSNI had asked motorists to use extreme caution on the road due to the heavy rainfall and a number of badly affected roads were closed.

These included the underpass at Stockman's Lane in South Belfast, along with the Glenavy Road in Moira. On the Malone Road near the Ulster Clinic, a manhole cover was dislodged due to heavy rainfall.

Heavy flooding was also reported in Antrim town centre and in Saintfield in Co Down.

Thousands of business and homes across the province were without power on Saturday evening, but Northern Ireland Electricity confirmed yesterday that power had been restored to all customers.

Several sporting events had to be cancelled as a result of the weather.

The Armoy Road Races were abandoned for the day, while Glentoran FC were forced to abandon their friendly with Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park.

Meanwhile, several residents in Lurgan in Co Armagh and Muckamore in Co Antrim faced having their homes swamped by water polluted with sewage.

The Department for Communities has confirmed that individual householders who have suffered severe inconvenience can claim a £1,000 payment from their local council as an offer of assistance.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill confirmed the scheme would be opened to help those domestic properties affected.

"Anyone who has suffered from domestic flooding should contact their local council, who will be administering the scheme," she said.

A multi-agency teleconference was held to co-ordinate a response to the flooding on Saturday.

The conference was chaired by local government and agencies said they had been in a state of readiness since Friday and had responded to numerous calls from across the country.

However, Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said yesterday that businesses affected by significant flood damage should be liable to rates relief.

"We are always going to have this situation while we don't have the right investment in our water and sewerage infrastructure," he said.

"That is a crucial issue that hopefully an incoming Stormont administration can address.

"There's also a wider issue there when you see businesses caught up in this type of bad weather and the very significant loss they will face due to flood damage.

"They should be able to see a reduction in their rates. That's something we put forward to the last Assembly and it's still something that we would be keen to see a future government do," Mr Roberts added.

South Antrim DUP MLA Pam Cameron spent most of yesterday visiting businesses and home owners affected by the flooding after what she described as "an horrific day for some in Antrim".

She said her party would be offering assistance in relation to flooding at all South Antrim offices from this morning.

The flooding also caused problems for those hoping to take to the air. Belfast International Airport recorded 88.2mm of rainfall, with the average Northern Ireland rainfall for the month of July being 81.2mm.

Holidaymakers at the airport saw their travel plans disrupted as ground staff had to stop working due to the weather.

Pauline Cooke from Belfast had been waiting to board a flight to Benidorm with her family but said the delays had spilled over into yesterday.

"Have been waiting in Belfast International Airport baggage collection for over three hours, some have been waiting over 12.

"Jet2 delayed our flight until 7pm tonight. Was due to leave Belfast International Airport at 7am. On way to airport when Jet2 text at 4am.

"Absolute joke, two kids up from 3am," she tweeted.

When contacted last night, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it had been called out to deal with a number of flooded properties and roads in counties Antrim and Down, however no final figures were available at the time of going to press.

Belfast Telegraph

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