Northern Ireland

Council remains in ’emergency response’ mode as floods persist in Co Down

Delia Magee sweeps up outside Magee’s Bar, which has been in her husband’s family since 1913, as the clear up begins in Newry Town, Co Down (Brian Lawless/PA)
Delia Magee sweeps up outside Magee’s Bar, which has been in her husband’s family since 1913, as the clear up begins in Newry Town, Co Down (Brian Lawless/PA)

A local council in Co Down remains in “emergency response” mode battling flooding.

Downpatrick, Newcastle and Newry are among the worst affected areas in Northern Ireland following several days of heavy rainfall.

Earlier, some rivers in Northern Ireland were described as having reached record high levels.

Police, firefighters, the ambulance service, councils and state agencies have been working alongside the Red Cross to support areas affected by flooding.

The Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance (SEFA) has been made available to homeowners dealing with flooding, with a £1,000 payment.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council chair Valerie Harte described “significant flooding”.

“The council is still in emergency response, with significant flooding in Downpatrick and Newcastle, as well as Newry,” she said.

“Council staff continue to assist Department for Infrastructure staff, including with the distribution of sandbags for the use in constructing flood defences across the district.

“As well as providing emergency assistance, the council has adapted its services wherever possible. The council will be providing practical assistance in the clean-up operation and is ready to play a significant role in the recovery phase.”

On Thursday night in Co Armagh, the train line between Portadown and Dundalk remained closed due to flooding, with bus substitutions in place.

Also in Co Armagh, Annagh United Football Club saw their grounds damaged by flooding.

The Department for Infrastructure said it expected not be able to work to reduce the floodwater in Downpatrick until Friday when river levels have dropped.

The department said: “Our engineering team has assessed the situation and estimated that it could be tomorrow before we, along with multi-agency partners, can progress the reduction of the floodwater at Market Street, Downpatrick.

“The main reason for this is that the water levels in the river and its smaller tributaries need to decrease before we can make meaningful progress.”

Autumn weather November 1st 2023
Debris and floodwater in Newry, Co Down after heavy rainfall(Brian Lawless/PA)

The department said a multi-agency response is ongoing across the areas worst affected.

A spokesperson said in some areas rivers reached record levels, and remained very high on Thursday morning.

They said it will take some time for water to drain away.

“Lough Neagh will continue to rise but at this stage is expected to peak tomorrow at a level below what was experienced in the winter of 2015,” the spokesperson said.

“We have already engaged with colleagues in local government and councils about the recovery stage and we will play our part in that in whatever way possible.”