Flooding lessons need to be learned

Councillor Declan McAlinden with Elmwood Terrace residents Maurice Magill and Mrs May May. INLM2712-116gc
Councillor Declan McAlinden with Elmwood Terrace residents Maurice Magill and Mrs May May. INLM2712-116gc

RESIDENTS living in a Lurgan ‘floodzone’ are angry that little action has been taken since their houses were devastated by floodwaters.

Several homes at Elmwood Terrace were badly damaged following the big thaw in January 2010. It prompted a visit from Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and DRD Minister Conor Murphy as well as officials from NI Water and the Housing Executive.

At the time residents were told the authorities would do their best to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Following last week’s heavy rainfall residents fear they’re no further on than they were 18 months ago.

“Promises were made that day to sort out the problem, but the only things that have been done are cosmetic,” said Maurice Magill, who said he wasn’t convinced by the ‘fly by night’ visit of the Deputy First Minister and DRD Minister.

Maurice said: “18 months ago during the thaw this whole place was flooded. The Housing Executive promised they would do costings to put gulleys and drains in but so far there’s been nothing, apart from a small bit of cosmetic work.

“This past few days residents have been up in arms again. They’re waiting for the same thing to happen again.

“We’ve been subject to flooding over the years. There have been major incidents three times in the last 10 years.”

He added: “Workmen come out to clear it, but that’s a short term fix. In the long term money needs to be spent on this area.”

“When it’s like this in June, what’s it going to be like in Winter? It’s not just water lying, it’s oul stinking glar.”

Mrs May May, who lives in one of the houses in Elmwood Terrace badly damaged by last year’s flooding, commented: “The row behind us all have dogs and when they hose down their yards all the mess comes into the alley and stays there.

“If you take your bin out in your slippers, the slippers have to go in the bin afterwards.

“When the rain comes on you’re holding your breath. It’s like living in the Lake District.”

Declan McAlinden, who contacted the Housing Executive and Waste Management department about the problem said:

“It’s not good enough. The authorities need to sort this out.

“If not, there’s going to be floods that could do even more damage. Lessons need to be learned and action needs to be taken.

“Residents have been on about this for 10 years.”

It has emerged that five separate agencies all have different responsibilities when it comes to flooding - NI Water, The Rivers Agency, Department of Regional Development, Roads Service and the Department of Finance and Personnel.

In the case of Elmwood Terrace, the Housing Executive also have an important role to play.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “A scheme design has been produced by the Housing Executive to try and address the inadequate drainage in the alleyway behind the properties.

“The NIHE does not own any of the houses but does own the alleyway.

“NIHE are liaising with NI Water regarding the scheme for new surface runoff drainage and hope to be in a position to commence work by the end of the summer.

“In the meantime NIHE has arranged for our response maintenance contractor to call out and clear the gullies to deal, in the interim, with the heavy rainfall.”