Leaders move to calm public fury

 

NORTHERN IRELAND:THE NORTH’S political leaders have tried to calm public anger over the handling of flash floods that swamped large parts of Belfast.

Further downpours were forecast as thousands struggle to clean up damage already caused by overnight flooding on Wednesday across the city and parts of Co Antrim.

The Minister responsible for the roads and water system, Danny Kennedy, said infrastructure was simply overwhelmed by the deluge.

“I have seen first-hand the misery caused as well as the work that is ongoing to deal with the situation.”

The Minister said all possible action to alleviate the crisis was being taken,

However, he added: “Agencies remain in a state of high alert to respond to any further flooding events. Unfortunately we cannot prevent heavy rain and cannot guarantee that there will be no further flooding.”

Stormont has alerted local government emergency response teams across Northern Ireland to deal with any further flooding.

Mr Kennedy said teams worked throughout the night and continued to assist those still dealing with flood damage.

“Firstly, my concern is for all those affected by last night’s flooding,” he said.

“Clearly we had very exceptional cloudbursts last night in a very short period of time. The severity of the rainfall overwhelmed our roads and sewerage infrastructure in some places,” he added.

Emergency services reported receiving more than 700 call-outs linked to flooding in greater Belfast, while Northern Ireland Water said it handled nearly 3,000 flood calls. In addition, 1,000 homes were hit by power cuts.

A Northern Ireland Water spokeswoman said that areas affected included Lisburn, Dunmurry, Belfast and Bangor.

An emergency financial assistance scheme has been made available to provide £1,000 (€1,250) of emergency funding for households damaged by flood water. – (PA)