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Northern Ireland news

More than 120 people rescued after flash flooding

David Young, Press Association
23 August, 2017 01:00

PEOPLE had to run to safety after a road collapsed in Co Derry following heavy rain overnight.

The road in Drumahoe gave way this morning as a major clear-up operation got under way in the north-west.

The storm left a trail of destruction and more than 120 people had to be rescued after being trapped in cars or homes.

Bridges collapsed, roads gave way and cars were washed away in overflowing rivers during a night when 63% of August's average rainfall fell within nine hours.

Firefighters saved 93 people, with the Coastguard helping dozens of others.


Police, ambulance crews and search and rescue teams were also involved in the response.

Temporary accommodation centres have been opened to house those whose homes were flooded.




Counties Derry, Tyrone and Donegal were worst hit.

There were some dramatic images of devastation on Wednesday as the rescue operation turned to clean-up and repairs.

Downpours swept in from the Atlantic Ocean, hitting Co Donegal on Tuesday afternoon before moving across the north.

Firefighters responded to 85 separate flooding incidents on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Firefighters rescued 93 people who were trapped by flood water either from their cars or from properties.

"Our regional control centre (RCC) received 402 emergency 999 calls between 7pm last night and 4am this morning.

"At its peak time, between 9pm and 11pm, RCC handled an emergency call every 45 seconds.

"Firefighters worked in extremely challenging circumstances to reach people.

"A number of roads were impassable due to flooding and crews had to take alternative routes to attend some incidents.

"We worked closely with colleagues from the Irish Coastguard Agency, PSNI, ambulance service, Foyle Search and Rescue and local councils to respond to incidents to assist members of the public.

"Our specialist teams, including the water rescue teams and specialist rescue team from Belfast, were deployed and worked alongside local operational crews.

"This was a very busy and challenging night for fire crews and our regional control centre personnel.

"I commend them for their professionalism in responding to such challenging circumstances as efficiently as they did throughout the night."

Thunder showers which lasted over four hours left some roads badly damaged while staff at Derry’s Bluebell Bar were forced to use sandbags after water started to flood through the Lecky Road premises.

Rain water lifted the surface of the Rock Road while drain covers burst throughout the city, sending fountains of the water into the air.

Dublin government minister Joe McHugh said the response to the Donegal flooding would be a priority.

Mr McHugh, a Donegal TD, said: "My first thoughts this morning are with the families affected by this severe weather event.

"I also want to thank the emergency services, Donegal County Council and the incredible volunteers who worked through the night to save property and to save lives.

He said: “The Met Office issued a weather warning for heavy rain which may lead to localised flooding.”

Met Éireann also issued weather warnings for thunder across the whole island, with a heavy rain warning is force for Connaught, along with counties Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal.

"Inishowen has been badly affected with some roads and bridges washed away.

"Many roads across the east of the county are also affected.

"It is important now that an initial assessment of the damage caused is carried out and I've been in contact overnight with a number of officials including the Office of Public Works."

23 August, 2017 01:00 Northern Ireland news

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