Flood victims to be offered help from council

MID Ulster residents who have been severely affected by heavy rainfall in recent days may be entitled to help from Cookstown Council following a pledge from the Environment Minister.

Heavy rain has continued to make the lives of Mid Ulster residents a misery as roads flooded across the area in the latest spell of wet weather. Now Alex Attwood is offering emergency funds to councils to cover the cost of providing practical help.

The most recent rainfall came just as homeowners, business people and local farmers were recovering from the effects of last week’s heavy rain. A section of the Glen Road in Maghera was closed on Monday after a grass verge collapsed following heavy rainfall earlier in the day.

While a diversion was in place it is understood some motorists were taking a chance and driving on through the road. A Roads Service spokeswoman said: “Due to heavy rain the hedge and verge has been washed away and the road has been closed for safety reasons to prevent further damage to the road. Roads Service is working towards getting the road open as soon as it is safe to do so.”

While other roads in the area experienced minor flooding they were said to be “passable with care” as of Tuesday evening. The bad weather comes just as Roads Service has begun a series of major road repair schemes across the district beginning this month and expected to last into November.

In Cookstown a man living near Sandholes said the Bardahessiah Road was again flooded, causing problems for almost 50 families living in the area. A bus shelter used by local schoolchildren was still said to be flooded on Tuesday, following similar problems last week.

An Ardboe man also told the Mail how he had to take Monday off work and spent five hours helping to pump water from his father’s house. Anyone affected can now send applications to the council for consideration.

Minister Attwood said he had liased with councils earlier in the week to discuss the possibility of a repeat of a similar aid scheme implemented two years ago.

“I am concerned for the plight many householders could face as a result of this severe wet weather,” he said.

“I will continue to monitor the situation with my officials on an hour-to-hour basis. This is about putting in place the resources at a council level to ensure help is delivered, as soon as possible, on the ground for those severely affected.”

Councils can offer help and guidance to owners, where their homes are severely affected internally by flood water. Assistance would come in the form of practical help, including collection, retention and disposal of damaged household contents, assistance in making arrangements to clean up homes and gardens and by providing de-humidifiers.

While tomorrow (Friday) morning’s weather forecast looks set to give people a breather from the constant rain, a heavy downfall is expected on Friday night. Light rain is forecast for Saturday.

Anyone who needs help in the coming days can contact the Flooding Emergency Incident Line 0300 2000 100.