Belfast Telegraph

Woman's dash to rescue sister as waters closed in

By Michelle Smyth

Being carried by a firefighter through a river of flood water and sewage to reach her vulnerable sister is how one Newry woman will remember the day part of the city became so submerged that it was likened to Venice.

For Mary Ellison the problems began on Thursday afternoon when the area around Bridge Street and Cleary Crescent became immersed in three feet of water, forcing some residents to be evacuated.

Mrs Ellison said: "I was wakened by my petrified sister begging me to come and help her.

"Her street in Cleary Crescent was completely flooded and it had started to flow into her home. She was trapped upstairs.

"I was unable to make my way down the street to her because the flood water was up to my waist so I asked a fireman to carry me.

"When I got to her she was crying and scared. There was more than a foot of water on her ground floor, destroying furniture and saturating everything.

"Her social worker came and took her to a care home. It wasn't safe for her to be in the house."

Yesterday, there was still flood water and muck on the ground floor and a foul smell of sewage. Workmen were pulling up the saturated wooden floor.

"We're just disgusted," said Mrs Ellison's husband, Kevin.

"The night before, we phoned the DRD asking for sandbags but we were ignored.

"If they had listened, some of this destruction could've been avoided.

"At 9am we phoned begging for more sandbags because we were struggling by ourselves to drain the water from our homes. But assistance didn't arrive until after 10am.

"It was too little, too late. We felt abandoned."

SDLP councillor John McArdle has been on the ground helping the residents.

"I have never seen the like of it. The place was like Venice with about three feet of dirty water in both streets that looked like a river.

"The nearby Glen River overflowed and burst its banks, bringing logs and mud onto the street like a landslide.

"Some people are also saying that the drainage system here is ineffective, with some storm drains becoming overloaded. But you have to take in to account we are talking about a massive amount of rain here," he added.

An 83-year-old woman living in Bridge Street was also affected by the flooding.

Marie Southwell said: "I was in complete shock. I had to contact my family to come help me. My ground floor is saturated... cupboards, fridge, washing machine all damaged.

"Sandbags were brought eventually but by that stage it was too late."

Her son-in-law Kevin Timoney added: "The £1,000 grant the local councils are offering to people affected won't go very far."

Lithuanian Gediminas Skirmantas was helping his mother remove all of her belongings from her Bridge Street home yesterday.

He said: "It's sickening. My mother has spent a lot of time and invested a great deal of money into doing this place up over the past few years.

"And in the blink of an eye it has just been destroyed."

Yesterday, business owners in Newry's Greenbank industrial estate were told to evacuate by 4pm due to the risk of a high tide and further flooding.

Belfast Telegraph


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