Belfast Telegraph

Effective resources need to be in place to help people deal with the devastation caused during torrential downpours

Editor's Viewpoint

The devastation caused by the terrible weather throughout the province on Tuesday night is shocking.

Around 465 people have applied for the £1,000 grant to help those most affected, and the cost to Derry City and Strabane District Council could reach £500,000.

These were frightening and distressing experiences for the families who had to watch their homes being destroyed or badly damaged. Thankfully no lives were lost, but many people face huge tasks in repairing their properties and dealing with the emotional trauma caused by the torrential downpours.

Unfortunately, there were just two Rivers Agency staff on duty. This was partly due to the payment of only £5.65 to remain on standby, although volunteers are paid more if they are called out.

The Rivers Agency was scrambling to call in extra crews to deal with the deluge. Despite the warning forecasts, no one could have anticipated the magnitude of the damage, but the fact that only two staff were on standby will be of no comfort to those affected.

Thankfully the emergency services reacted extremely well and many people rushed to help their neighbours.

There were heart-warming tales of rescues by tractors and of strangers helping stranded travellers.

However, many basic questions remain to be answered. A sum of just over £5 seems inadequate for a standby commitment, particularly as volunteers may be called out to help in difficult circumstances.

Sadly we are accustomed to bouts of bad weather and this is unlikely to change. The relevant authorities, including the Rivers Agency, need to do much more to provide adequate resources for people who need help

In the meantime it is crucial that those presently suffering from some of the worst effects of the terrible weather are getting all the help they need to put their lives together again.

Belfast Telegraph

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