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Flood victims’ emergency fund to exceed £300,000

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Flood victims’ emergency fund to exceed £300,000 thumbnailA house in Burndennett was submerged in water during last week's flooding. (Photo: Marc Ó Ceallaigh).

CLEAN-up operations are continuing throughout the district as the reality of the damage left in the wake of the destruction of last week's unprecedented floods becomes more apparent.

Many businesses, community groupings, sporting clubs, farmers and homeowners have all been left counting the cost of the worst floods in living memory.

Across the North West hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused when torrential downpours - 63 per cent of August's rainfall - fell within nine hours last Tuesday resulting in rivers bursting their banks and virtually destroying anything in their paths.

Locally the wider Glenelly Valley, Castlederg, Newtown-stewart and Burndennett areas were the worst affected with communities now left facing recovery operations which could last for several months.

Flash floods and mammoth mudslides saw sections of roads and bridges swept away, key roads were rendered impassable, properties were destroyed, people were trapped in their cars and homes, agricultural land was damaged and scores of livestock also lost.

Over the last week communities, assisted by statutory agencies on the ground, have rallied together as those affected try to pick up the pieces.

Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that it expects an emergency fund for victims to exceed £300,000. The local authority says it is continuing to assist with the clean-up operation and that officers has been working day and night to help those in need.

To date 588 requests for assistance have been received with an estimated 492 properties directly affected across the district, however it's believed there may yet be some householders who haven't come forward to register.

"Officers have visited 98 per cent of those homes registered to date and follow up visits will continue over the coming days. Over £270,000 worth of emergency fund scheme monies have been paid out with a further £50,000 expected to be paid out in the coming days," a spokesperson said.

 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maolíosa McHugh, has praised the efforts of everyone involved in the rescue and recovery operation.

He said: "The way in which the statutory and voluntary agencies have worked in close collaboration to provide this level of support to the people of Eglinton, Drumahoe, Plum-bridge, Castlederg, Glenelly, Claudy and a number of other areas is testament to the level of professional and commitment they have to serving their communities.

 

"I have been out and about visiting some of the homes of those directly affected and seen at first hand the scale of the damage. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of council staff in particular, staff from the statutory and voluntary agencies as well as the many volunteers who have been working tirelessly these past five days to do what they can to assist the people directly affected.

"The community have really rallied around and we hope that level of support will continue in the days and weeks to come as the scale of the incident comes to light and people work to rebuild their lives."

Whilst the immediate focus has been on the continuing clean-up operations, questions are also being asked about the response of the authorities with politicians questioning the adequacy of preparations ahead of the weather warnings.

SDLP infrastructure spokesperson, Daniel McCrossan MLA said: "No one could prevent damage completely, but it could have been minimised. This simply did not happen.

"Emergency plans should have been enforced on Tuesday night, not 14 or more hours later. The political impasse at Stormont is evidently having devastating consequences on the people of Northern Ireland and this will only get greater as time continues.

"It's time parties got together and started delivering for people rather than facilitating absolute chaos, especially in times of emergency."

There have also been calls for the establishment of a hardship relief scheme and access to the European Union's Solidarity Fund to help rebuild the carnage.

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