Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland flash floods: Clean-up continues with extra measures put in place as more heavy rain expected

The Department of Infrastructure is putting supports in place in some part of Northern Ireland on Thursday night in anticipation of heavy rainfall.

There is no weather warning in place, but showers are expected to come down during Thursday night and Friday morning.

The department has said that it is making the preparations in the western and north western areas due to pre-existing saturation and ground conditions.

The Regional Community Resilience Group, which is in place to help communities prepare for emergencies, has been advised of weather patterns and is making appropriate preparations.

Work is still be carried out by the department's roads and rivers teams to help those most affected and at risk.

More than 8,000 sandbags have been distributed since Tuesday, with stocks being replenished in anticipation of any further flooding.

These sandbags will be made available at locations where there is significant risk to life or damage to property from flooding.

A heavy deluge of rain saw cars, roads and bridges washed away; thousands left without power; the City of Derry Airport closed; and emergency flood plans activated by local councils.

In total 93 people were rescued by the Fire and Rescue Service, with dozens more being given assistance by the Coastguard.

Here is what is happening on Thursday as the clean up continues:

  • Water was cleared from the City of Derry Airport with it reopening for BMI and Ryanair flights.
  • The Victoria Road, the main route between Londonderry and Strabane, and the Ardlough Road both remain closed with the motorists asked to adhere to diversions.
  • Respite centres being operated by Derry City and Strabane District Council at the YMCA in Drumahoe and in the Eglinton Community Centre were open from 8am on Thursday morning.
  • Derry City and Strabane District Council has also notified the public that it is currently having some difficulty with waste collection due to damage to its Newtownstewart and Donemana Recycling Centres.
  • Work is being carried out on the Burndennett Bridge and it is anticipated that it will reopen by tomorrow.

 

Questions were raised by political leaders in Northern Ireland about the adequacy of the response to the flash flooding.

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill said she had met with the interim Head of the Civil Service David Stirling and would be pushing for a "concerted multi-departmental response" to the floods.

"Clearly questions need to be answered about the state of preparedness and the response of some statutory agencies," she said.

"People are also beginning the long process of cleaning-up and rebuilding and we need to ensure every possible assistance is provided to them.

"That will require a robust and concerted approach across several different government departments."

Visiting the impacted area in the Londonderry neighbourhood of Drumahoe on Wednesday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was "heartbreaking" to meet some of the residents.

A letter calling for the Emergency Financial Assistance to be extended beyond just helping with domestic property repairs has been issued by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and party MLAs Mark H Durkan from Foyle, and Daniel McCrossan from West Tyrone.

Under the scheme householders are able to apply for a £1,000 payment to help with making their homes habitable again.

"The SDLP believes that this support should be extended to include non-domestic properties, i.e. businesses, community and sporting organisations. While small businesses remain shut, there are wider economic impacts," the statement says.

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