Flood victim families are 'living in fear'

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Flood victim families are 'living in fear' thumbnailResidents of the Sixmilecross-Beragh area and politicians that attended the flooding meeting in the Sixmilecross Church of Ireland hall last Friday morning with officials from the Rivers Agency and Dept. for Infrastructure.

Desperate families in the Sixmilecross and Beragh areas have thrown themselves at the mercy of the Rivers Agency and the Department for Infrastructure with a heartfelt plea saying - 'help us now or we have no future'.

Members of the Thompson and Owen families from the Altamuskin Road suffered tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage as a result of the freak rainfall that enlarged the Cloughfin River on August 22. They say they are now 'living in fear' of it happening again.

The Kerr family in Beragh also suffered extensive flooding as a result of the Remackin-Camowen river bursting its banks. They, too, fear for their future.

The families organised a meeting with the two agencies last Friday morning at the Church of Ireland hall in the village. They were joined by local members of the community, two MLAs, Tom Buchanan and Declan McAleer as well as four local councillors, Bert Wilson, Allan Rainey, Sean Donnelly and Rosemarie Shields.

In a detailed and at times, emotional presentation, all three families outlined how they had suffered as a result of the deluge that engulfed their homes. They also highlighted the fact that a similar flood back in 2011 flagged up warning signs that the possibilities for a much more serious event were there, but claimed that despite raising their concerns with the agencies, little or nothing had changed in the past six years.

Beverly Thompson described in graphic detail how she had to keep moving towards the attic on August 22 as the floods rose higher and higher.


"I was afraid we were going to be trapped if we went up any higher. We just about got the three children out to safety that night but now they cry when they hear the rain. They think it's all going to happen again," she said.

She added all this trauma had affected their lives, health, their children's education and their very future.

Her husband, Eric, presented detailed drawings and maps to the Rivers Agency representatives and pointed out that even though his house was not on a flood plain, the lack of maintenance further up river combined with the force of the flood put them directly in the way of the water.

"Nothing appears to have been done since 2011 and things have only worsened the situation as far as I can see. There needs to be a full and detailed look at the river as embankments, gravel and blocked eyes on bridges are forcing water towards us. What are our homes worth now? - nothing"

Patricia Owens voiced her concerns about climate change and how she feared it would turning rare flooding events into something they had to expect on a more regular basis. This meant they had to plan ahead and the work of the agencies was a large part of this.

Her husband, Philip, warned that unless the flow of the river was dealt with, either by the construction of embankments or some form of dredging, there was going to be no change.


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