Belfast flooding: Clean-up after 30 homes are damaged

Media caption, "When a manhole busts with raw sewage, you can't stop it all"

A clear-up operation is under way in Belfast after heavy rain led to flooding on Thursday evening, mainly in the south and west of the city,

Emergency payments of £1,000 are being made available by the Department of Environment to people whose homes have been damaged by flood water.

About 30 houses were affected, but many more were saved by sandbags.

The DRD said 40% of the average rainfall for October fell in seven hours on Thursday in parts of Belfast.

Several homes on Moonstone Street, off the Lisburn Road, were flooded, with raw sewage coming in through drains.

Urgent inspection

Some residents said their homes had also been flooded last year.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said householders affected by flooding could claim payments "to ensure that homes are made habitable as quickly as possible".

Image source, Twitter: Arsenewengered
Image caption, There was flooding on the Whiterock Road in west Belfast

Mr Durkan said it was not a compensation payment, but anyone who felt they may be entitled should contact their local council to arrange for an urgent property inspection.

"If the council decides that your claim is eligible, you will receive your payment within a matter of days," he added.

'Swimming pool'

In Newtownabbey, the Shore Road was closed between Mill Road and Longwood Road after a retaining wall collapsed. It has since reopened.

In Finaghy, Sicily Park was closed to traffic for a time because of flooding.

Image source, Steve Reid
Image caption, Traffic was moving slowly on Finaghy Road North in Belfast due to heavy rain

Sicily Park resident Mary Young told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme her house was "completely surrounded and the garden was like a swimming pool".

She said the flood water "was about an inch or less from coming in the front door".

"Our furniture is up now on plastic bins and buckets and we had started to move everything upstairs because we thought that it was actually going to come in."

Ms Young's family has been forced to move out of their Sicily Park home twice due to flood damage, in 2008 and 2012.

But over the last number of years, they have had to use sandbags about 16 times, to protect their property during heavy rain.

Image caption, Sicily Park resident Mary Young, who has had to leave her home twice because of flood damage, said her garden was "like a swimming pool" on Thursday night

Ms Young said flood warning road signs have now become a "permanent fixture" in her garden.

She added that there was a £10,000 excess on her home insurance policy, because her house was considered to be at significant risk.

Sinn Féin councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who was in Finaghy, said: "There are five or six homes flooded, but I think we're over the worst.

"The co-ordination from Road Service, Belfast City Council, firefighters and NI Water has been remarkable."

In a statement, NI Water said: ''Following previous flooding incidents, NI Water has completed a number of feasibility studies for the Finaghy Road area of Belfast, which included Sicily Park and Greystown Avenue.

"The feasibility studies confirmed that a large project is required to alleviate the risk of flooding in the future.

"The Glenmachan Sewer Project has been designed to alleviate the level of pollution to Belfast streams that discharge to the River Lagan and also to reduce the risk of flooding to properties in the area. However, while the flood risk will be reduced, it is simply not possible to provide guarantees that it will be eliminated."

Bus passengers faced delays of almost two hours on Thursday evening because of flooding on some roads.

The Upper Malone Road in South Belfast was closed for a time between Dunmurry Lane and Drumbeg Road.

Stewartstown Road and the Andersonstown Road were also among areas affected by the heavy rain.

The flooding helpline is 0300 2000 100 and is available 24 hours a day.

Image source, Twitter: Pictureskew
Image caption, Motorists battled through the rain on the Stewartstown Road, Dunmurry
Image source, Twitter: Gossipguy
Image caption, Lying water made driving difficult on Stockman's Lane in south Belfast
Image source, Kerry Devlin
Image caption, Many motorists at Kingsway, Dunmurry, were in deep water
Image source, Jayne McCormack
Image caption, Cars struggled to pass along Fane Street, in the Village area of south Belfast

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