Northern Ireland news

Further floods feared as weather warning remains in place

Flooded fields near Loughgall, Co Armagh. Picture by Ann McManus
John Monaghan

A WARNING remains in place for heavy rain tonight as almost 50 roads across the north remain closed due to flooding.

Water levels on Lough Neagh are at a 30-year-high after recent heavy rainfall, with several businesses at Kinnego Marina left damaged by flood water and owners predicting that it will take months to recover.

The firms fear their difficulties will worsen this evening when further downpours are expected to hit the area.

One company is believed to have recently spent £10,000 on renovation work.

SDLP Upper Bann assembly member Dolores Kelly said that it was "incomprehensible" that there was no executive meeting planned until January 21 and called for an emergency session to be convened to discuss the extreme weather.

"These businessmen have invested in these properties and they really are distraught as to what they're going to get in terms of help today and coping with the aftermath when flood waters recede," Ms Kelly said.

She added: "I find it incomprehensible that David Cameron on St Stephen's Day held an emergency meeting regarding the floods in Cumbria, but it's my understanding that the next executive meeting isn't until 21 January."

The Rivers Agency has said that flood gates at Toomebridge, which are used to control water levels at Lough Neagh, have been open since November but have not been able to deal with the sustained pressure.

The majority of roads closed are in Counties Armagh and Fermanagh, with Loughgall and Lisnaskea particularly badly affected.

In the Republic, a national rainfall alert is in place until 11pm and civil defence volunteers have intervened to assist children being transported to school.

Farmers will be helping with school runs in a number of places, including Athlone in Co Westmeath.

Hundreds of roads remain shut due to flooding around the River Shannon.

Counties Cavan, Louth, Monaghan and Meath are predicted to be most at risk of flash flooding.

Bus services in several counties in the north-east and west of the country face diversions or cancellations.

A long-term flood forecasting system was agreed at a meeting of the Republic's cabinet yesterday.

The clean-up operation from the winter floods is expected to reach at least 8 million euro.

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