18 July 2002 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Preventable floods ruin homes

Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey has criticised the Water Service in the North over its failure to prevent flooding in the Lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast on Friday 12 July.

This was the seventh time in three years that the area has suffered flooding. The torrential rain that fell on Friday resulted in flash floods, and newly installed water pumps put in after serious flooding in the same area three years ago failed to clear the rising waters.

Water that entered a number of houses contained raw sewage. Wooden floors, carpets, clothes and children's toys were all destroyed by this contaminated water, while tarmac was lifted from the roads. Dead rats were also washed along streets in the flood water.

Expressing the anger of local residents, Maskey said: "The community here is extremely angry. Despite the seriousness of this flooding, no senior member of the Water Service, Road Service or the company that installed the new pumps was contactable or present in the area. The local community and its representatives were left to carry out the clean up operation."

Residents of the area staged a protest outside the offices of the Water Service in Belfast city centre on Tuesday 16 July. Alex Maskey, who represents the Lower Ormeau area, accompanied them.

Speaking at the protest, community activist Michael Goodman said the area had been flooded seven times in the past three years and he called on the Water Service and the Minister Peter Robinson to "follow up on the promises made in recent years" and ensure that this type of flooding doesn't happen again.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin assembly member for West Belfast, Sue Ramsey, who visited a number of homes in the St Meryl Park area of West Belfast that were also flooded on Friday said she was shocked at what she saw.

She crityicised the Department of the Environmnt for not acting in time in response to calls from residnts for assistance when the drains first became blocked up.

"Raw sewage and rain water ran through these homes destroying everything," said Ramsey. "One resident of St Meryl Park, whose house was extensively damaged, had rung the DoE on Friday to ask for assistance after he had noticed the drains were blocked. He was informed that the DoE was under pressure."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1