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Weather: Residents pick up the pieces after deluge from hell in Northern Ireland


Matthew Smith (8) with his ruined toys

Matthew Smith (8) with his ruined toys

Arlene Foster meets some of the residents affected by the floods

Arlene Foster meets some of the residents affected by the floods

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Bobby Donnell in his damaged home

Bobby Donnell in his damaged home

Matthew Smith (8) with his ruined toys

As dawn broke yesterday, revealing the devastation of the previous night's downpour in all its grim detail, people across Co Londonderry were left in shock and disbelief.

Hundreds of residents in villages were facing the prospect of weeks out of their homes as they counted the cost of hours of heavy rain.

The deluge in Drumahoe saw a park and ride facility collapse, sweeping two cars into the River Faughan and uprooting trees like twigs.

In Eglinton more than 100 people were given shelter at the community centre.

The Fire Service and Foyle Search and Rescue evacuated some people by boat.

Derry and Strabane Council opened the Foyle Arena for those affected.

The runway of City of Derry Airport was also submerged, and inside the terminal the water also took its toll, with no flights in or out of the city yesterday.

Some of the worst damage was in Eglinton and Drumahoe.

Muck, mess and mayhem had replaced neat and tidy interiors in hundreds of homes where residents stood in shock.

George McElhatton had lost the entire contents of the ground floor of his house, the contents of his garage and three cars which were parked in his yard.

Still struggling with his emotions, Mr McElhatton said: "I have lived in this house nearly 30 years and I never witnessed anything like the scenes I saw on Tuesday night.

"I saw the water starting to rise and I said to my son we need to get stuff into the garage, but within 10 minutes it had risen to thigh level and there was nothing we could do.

"The entire downstairs will have to be gutted and everything in it replaced. Nothing could be saved.

"My two sons stood at the kitchen door holding it fast against the rising water for a solid hour, but it was hopeless.

"The water came in and took everything, my floors are all lifted, my fridge freezer was swept on to its side and the cooker was bobbing up and down like it was a cork.

"There are three cars in our yard and they are all totally destroyed - I stood and watched one of them floating around the street."

In Dunvern Gardens in Eglinton, Rhonda Millar and her daughter Niamh (10) have been left with nowhere to live.

The deluge pushed the fence outside her home out of the ground, left drainage pipes exposed and shoved her shed 30ft down the garden before it rushed inside, destroying everything she owned.

She said: "I am devastated, I am so emotional when I look around me. We are homeless, I have nowhere to go.

"I have no words, I have never been so terrified.

"We were shouting out the window but no one could get to us to help us. The Fire Service eventually made it at 2am and managed to get us out." Villagers in Drumahoe were in a similar state of distress, among them Sam and Vivien Hamilton, who were outside their Riverside Park home, which backs onto the Faughan, and which was also rendered useless.

Mr Hamilton said: "As soon as we saw the water rising we went out and stacked bags of compost on the outside and thought if it comes inside we can mop it up, but within 10 minutes it had come from the back of the house to the front of the house.

"In minutes the water had risen about three feet and we knew there was nothing we could do. We heard the water bubbling in the toilet and before we knew it, it was pouring out of the toilet with raw sewage and going everywhere.

"Viviene is disabled and we couldn't get her out so we needed the assistance of the Fire Service to get her out, and as she stepped out the water was up to her chest."

"The insurance assessors said they might be able to get us into a bed and breakfast somewhere, but I can't see us being back home this side of Christmas."

In many parts of Derry city it was a case of every hand to the pump as people tried to hold back the rising tide in the Brandywell, Bogside and Creggan.

Frankie McMenamin was among those volunteering.

He said: "There were a lot of elderly people in a real state but the flooding was out of control and there was no holding it back."

Belfast Telegraph