Belfast Telegraph

Flood victims braced for more rain as roads collapse and cars are swept away

Flood-hit communities in the north-west were bracing themselves after more rain was forecast.

More than 100 people had to be rescued from cars and houses due to sudden flash flooding in Donegal, Tyrone and Derry on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Across Inishowen alone, the scale of the disaster was described as unprecedented and catastrophic, with the Irish Government opening an emergency fund for immediate assistance and clean-up. The damage is expected to run up a repair bill in the multi-millions.

More than 150 households were affected in Donegal. People needing financial help for food and everyday essentials, cleaning, structural work and white goods were urged to apply at welfare offices.

In Derry, more than 200 households reported needing assistance following flooding. Dozens of businesses were also affected, some seeing cars and vehicles swept away.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said: "I want to reassure those affected by the flooding that my department will do everything we can to relieve the immediate stress you are now under.

"Our people are there, on the ground and in our offices, ready and willing to offer help and assistance."

Over the border in Northern Ireland, in Tyrone and Derry, 8,000 sandbags have been distributed, with authorities promising more assistance.

Police there also expressed concern that motorists were ignoring flood warning signs on damaged roads.

District Commander of Derry City and Strabane, Gordon McCalmont, said: "Unfortunately, a large number of drivers are ignoring these signs and are driving though or around the closure signs and are talking chances with their safety and the safety of other road-users.

"They are often worsening the road condition by driving over verges. Drivers doing this are putting their safety and other people's safety at risk."

About two-thirds of the average rain for August fell in nine hours from Tuesday evening, turning roads into torrents, swelling rivers by 15ft in places and washing away roads and bridges. Another 40mm is forecast on Thursday night.

Joe McHugh, the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands, visited some of the affected and described scenes of devastation.

"Financial support under the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme will be initially targeted at the immediate needs of those impacted by the flooding for necessities like clothing and food with further financial support to follow for household items and structural repair as the clean-up operations begin," he said.

Six major bridges and roads on Inishowen will need to be repaired, including on the busy Moville to Muff road on Inishowen.

One lane of the Quigley's Point to Muff Road was expected to be reopen on Thursday night, providing a vital access route on Inishowen.

Other road-users were being urged to consider the Greencastle-Magilligan ferry for access in and out of Derry City and other parts of Northern Ireland if possible.

In one of the most dramatic scenes on Wednesday, several people had a lucky escape when a main road in the village of Drumahoe, outside Londonderry, collapsed.

A number of people were walking on the road when a section crumbled into flood water.

In Burnfoot, around 20 families in the Pairc an Grianan and Lios na Greine estates have been left homeless after their properties were severely damaged by flood water and raw sewage.

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