Tale of catastrophe for community, says councillor

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Tale of catastrophe for community, says councillor thumbnailThe bridge on the Camlough Road near Carrickmore which was destroyed by the flooding last Tuesday.

Farmers and householders in the Gortin, Sixmilecross and Beragh areas were among those hit hard by the flash flooding and needed urgent help to get their properties back in order, claimed Fermanagh and Omagh District Council member, Bert Wilson.

He was reactiing to what he had seen during a tour of the affected areas in the past week. He also complained that a flood emergency help line number was connecting some locals to a help desk in Newcastle in the north of England instead of someone locally.

"Without local knowledge how can they direct help to affected farmers and this is something that needs to be changed. We need a helpline number that will be manned by local people, who will be able to provide genuine assistance to stressed families, who need it right now," he said.


Referring to the Gortin area he said: "It's a tale of catastrophe with farmers reporting drowned sheep, lost cattle and destroyed silage. Miles of fencing have just been washed away and the same can be said for top soil in fields that had been ploughed for re-seeding purposes. It really is a scene of total devastation.

"One family in Drumlea, which is between Gortin and Rouskey had a poultry shed totally destroyed and another severely damaged with flood water. They lost 16,000 birds which included grandparent stock and I understand only six birds survived. If the family had been in the shed at the time they probably wouldn't have got out to safety. It could be at least two years before they are fully back in business, their life's work was wiped out at one go."

He added he had spoken to farmers who had cattle and sheep washed away - some found live and others not found at all.

"Farmers have enough to do but this is another level altogether," he said.

Mr Wilson said houses in Sixmilecross and the GAA building in Beragh were flooded as well, while a bridge on the Camlough Road Road near Carrickmore was also badly damaged.

"Water is Beragh was very high but a couple of years ago I got flood walls put up and they saved the houses. However, there were two houses further up the road near Sixmilecross that were affected because the authorities insisted on only installing a two ft pipe on one side of the local river, while there was a four ft culvert on the other so the water couldn't get through and that was despite assurances given to the families that they would never be affected by flooding. One man had his yard and foundation from under his shed washed away," he said.

Mr Wilson said he was annoyed that there appeared to be so much confusion as to who should take charge of helping the people. Some people even had officials from Ballymoney coming down to look at the damage.

"Matters weren't helped by poor drainage, particularly on the Omagh-Newtownstewart road where lots of water couldn't escape and large pools developed as a result which were very dangerous," he said.

He added: "Adding to the problem is the fact that we do not have a functioning Stormont Executive at the present time."


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