THE self sacrifice of those who did their
best to alleviate the suffering and devastation caused by the
floods of August 16 was highlighted at Tuesday evening's council
meeting as was the heartbreak experienced by those whose lives
were devastated by the deluge.
Special mention was made of a council
employee whose initiative saved the newly refurbished Bridge
Community Centre from complete disaster.
Councillor Jenny Palmer explained the lady
was at a hairdressers in the city centre when the downpour
As she left the salon she remembered previous
flooding at the building and decided to make sure all was well
before going home.
Once inside she went to the basement where,
as she feared, water to a depth of at least one foot had already
accumulated. The lady realised the only way to deal with the
problem was to open the door and let the water flow out.
She waded through both water and sewage and
attempted to move filing cabinets and other items to make
opening the door easier.
This proved difficult and she telephoned one
of the security guards employed at the Bridge who came to help
Together they managed to get the door open
and the water flowed out, flooding the hut at the rear of the
Mrs. Palmer said she had been told if the, door
had not been opened the water would have risen to the level of
the ceiling in the basement.
She also paid tribute to a resident of
Slemish Drive in the Tonagh area who knew exactly where flooding
was liable to occur in the vicinity of his home. There was no
doubt, she added, his efforts to stem the flow helped restrict
flooding in the street to three houses.
Councillors praised the actions of council
officers such as Eleanor Shields who went to the Civic Centre to
man the phones while people tried to obtain information about
who to turn to for help.
Tribute was paid to Corporate Services
Director David Briggs who was still in Dromara at midnight
offering advice and help to people affected by the flooding.
There was also praise for people who helped move cattle and
other livestock out of areas where they could have been
overwhelmed by the rising waters. Others spoke movingly of the
suffering they witnessed as the floods entered people's homes
Councillor William Leathem said he had
attended a Fold Housing Complex in the Benson Street area where
at least eight of the elderly residents were going to have to
leave their homes for a period of months.
He pointed out this was a terrible ordeal for
people in their 80's and 90's and said he had also received
calls from people experiencing terrible smells from sewage left
under their homes once the floods subsided.
Mr. Leathem described seeing shops at
Ballymacash forced to close as water entered the premises one
after the other.
He also said he had spoken to farmers whose
crops were submerged in water several feet deep.
Councillor Jonathan Craig spoke of his
experiences at Edgewater off Hillsborough Old Road where a piped
trubutary of the Lagan turned into a torrent which took just
minutes to flow through homes in the area. Like many other
councillors he found it devastating to witness the anguish of
people whose cherished possessions were reduced to piles of
rubbish awaiting disposal.
Council to question agencies
over response to flooding
LISBURN City Council is to question
representatives of Roads Service, Northern Ireland Water and the
Rivers Agency about their response to the severe flooding caused
by torrential rain on Saturday August 16.
It is also to urge the Executive to make
flooding hardship payments available to traders as well as
The first course of action was proposed at
Tuesday evening's monthly meeting by Alderman Jeffrey Donaldson
who felt there was a need to look at how the co-ordinated
response of statutory authorities to flooding could be improved
in the future.
The second was proposed by Councillor William
Leathem who experienced the flooding of retail premises first
hand in the Ballymacash area during the downpour.
Some of Mr. Donaldson's strongest criticism
was reserved for the Planning Department who he accused of
ignoring advice from councillors when considering applications
to build homes in areas prone to flooding.
He said the Old Mill development at Culcavey
and Stonebridge Meadows in Stoneyford were two examples of
developments where planners had been told of the risk when
considering the original applications.
Alderman Jim Dillon said he thought the
council had been assured something would be done to alleviate
flooding problems following previous deluges.
"Something has got to be done because this will
happen again as sure as night follows day," he added. Councillor
Thomas Beckett said there had been no co-ordination' with the
council by the other agencies responsible for dealing with the
He pointed out county councils in the
Republic were aware the flooding was going to happen and took
measures to ensure their areas were as well prepared as
He felt this type of forward planning based
on weather forecasts should be more widespread especially in
Alderman Seamus Close asked why if this had
happened before did it happen again.
"All sorts of promises were made about action
to ensure this would not be repeated," he said referring to
flash floods which occurred last summer. "There is no
accountability whatsoever in this place. There is always someone
else who can be blamed." Alderman Ivan Davis pointed out the
same comments made in the council chamber on Tuesday evening had
all been made before.
The Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford said he
was concerned by reports household insurance companies were
deducting the £1000 hardship payments made by the Executive from
their customers' claims.
He said it was important the companies realised these were
Agriculture Minister pays visit to flooded
AGRICULTURAL and Rural Development Minister
Michelle Gildernew saw for herself this week the damage caused
to local farms during last week's floods.
During the visit to a farm close to Lisburn,
the Minister was able to see the issues around the crop yields
at a premises affected by the recent flooding.
Minister said: "Widespread flooding has caused great heartache
and disruption to our farmers in recent days, and I want to
reassure them that I am doing everything I can to help.
"I have tasked my officials to carry out an
assessment of the difficulties facing farmers. I have also met
with the Ulster Farmers Union to gain their appreciation of
whether the flooding has any long term impact on the industry. I
would intend to make my assessment available to my Executive
colleagues, so that we can jointly consider the way forward.
In the meantime, I would encourage farmers
whose homes have been flooded to avail of the emergency
assistance from the Executive. This is intended to provide
immediate practical relief, and to lift some of the worry which
this extreme weather event has put on local householders."