MEP ‘staggered’ by scale of flood damage in Glenelly Valley

Thursday, 14 September 2017

ULSTER Unionist MEP., Jim Nicholson, alongside Ulster Unionist councillors, has visited a number of Co Tyrone residents hit by the recent flash flooding and says he is "staggered" by the scale of the devastation caused by the flood water.
He also reiterated his call for emergency support and financial aid for those affected by the unprecedented flooding of last month.
Mr Nicholson was speaking following a visit to the Glenelly Valley area last Thursday to speak with some of those worst affected by the torrents that raged through the scenic area.
Three weeks on from what has been described as the "worst flooding in living memory" and many are still trying to quantify the full extent of the damage. The clean-up operation is expected to take months with the repair bill expected to be substantial.
Farmers in particular had thousands of pounds worth of farmland and livestock washed away when floodwater and huge landslides deposited large volumes of silt, rock and debris.
Calls for the introduction of a special hardship fund to assist have so far gone unanswered. Mr Nicholson says he has formally requested assistance alongside Fine Gael MEP., Mairead McGuinness, in a joint letter to European Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan.
Commenting after his visit to the area, he said: "Having now seen the damage first-hand and spoken with some of those directly affected by last monthís flash flooding in the Glenelly Valley I am staggered by the power of the flood water and the scale of the devastation it caused.
"The flood water has caused unbelievable levels of destruction to homes and livelihoods in the area. Many farm businesses have been hit hard, with the flood water levelling fencing and causing extensive damage to farm buildings.
"Fields have been covered in stones and silt meaning grass is totally unusable for silage for the winter whilst other growers and farmers have lost crops and livestock, including hens. Key infrastructure and sports grounds were also seriously damaged by the flash floods."
He added: "Clearing up after this unprecedented flooding is on-going but it will take a considerable amount of time, effort and money to complete. Given the nature of the flooding and the scale of the damage it is clear that those families, businesses and organisations affected need assistance.
"Since the flooding hit last month I have been in close contact with local Ulster Unionist colleagues and I have raised the needs of those affected with the EU's Agriculture Commissioner and officials both locally and in Brussels. I have further meetings planned in the days ahead to discuss what assistance can be provided.
"It is important that all avenues for helping those hit by the flooding are fully explored as a matter of urgency and I will do everything possible to investigate and access potential assistance."
The MEP was accompanied on the trip by party colleague, fellow farmer and Fermanagh and Omagh district councillor, Bert Wilson. He also reiterated his call for immediate financial aid.
"It is a catastrophe and it's not until you are on the ground that you realise the full scale of this disaster," he said. "Farmers have had good land destroyed beyond repair, silage destroyed, livestock drowned or lost and miles of fencing washed away.
"Years of work just gone. It's heart-breaking. One family, in particular, has had a poultry shed totally destroyed and another severely damaged with flood water. It could be years before people get back on their feet.
"Farmers need urgent intervention in the form of financial aid and they need it now. We don't have a functioning Executive at the minute and that is not helping."


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