Flash flooding | 

‘Apocalyptic’ rain leaves dozens trapped at home in Donegal, Tyrone and Derry

One-third of the average total monthly rainfall for August fell in a single hour in parts of the north on Saturday evening.
Parts of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry (pictured) have been flooded after heavy rainfall. Photo: Andy McDonagh Photography

Parts of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry (pictured) have been flooded after heavy rainfall. Photo: Andy McDonagh Photography

John BreslinIndependent.ie

Flash flooding has caused damage to homes and businesses in Donegal and across the north-west.

Dozens of people had to be rescued from their homes by emergency services in the county, as well as in Tyrone and Derry.

One-third of the average total monthly rainfall for August fell in a single hour in parts of the north on Saturday evening.

In Northern Ireland, Castlederg monitoring station, in west Tyrone, recorded rainfall of 30mm in the hour between 7pm and 8pm, the Met Office said as householders continued to clean up following widespread flooding and destruction.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) fielded 106 emergency calls between just after 7pm on Saturday until 1.30am yesterday morning, with firefighters responding to 49 incidents, including rescuing one person from a vehicle and five trapped in flooded properties.

No further flood call-outs were reported up to yesterday evening despite a yellow weather remaining in place and the rain continuing to drench parts of the region.

Teams from the Department for Infrastructure responded to almost 300 calls and provided assistance to affected residents and businesses throughout the night. It is estimated that more than 8,000 sandbags were deployed

In total, the rain gauge at Castlederg recorded rainfall of 44.4mm in the 24-hour period from 10pm on Friday. That represents half the average total for the month. A further 10mm was recorded through early yesterday evening at the same station.

The director of services with Donegal County Council said most of the flooding occurred in the east Inishowen area near Moville and Greencastle.

Gary Martin said the flooding was “very intensive” for affected areas which included residential properties and damage to infrastructure.

“It is a testament to the emergency services both in Donegal and in Northern Ireland that thy were able to respond so quickly to the event as it occurred,” he said.

Mr Martin said the “vast majority” of premises in Inishowen were defended and no “substantial damage” was caused.

“Initially we had four appliances from the Donegal Fire Service responded, they responded with pumping appliances and sandbags defend properties,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Our road services in the council as well also responded, there was quite a number of roads in the area that became unpassable quite quickly.

“Our first priority is the preservation of life and to ensure that no one is injured so we put in place diversions very, very quickly but thankfully there was no one injured, and we managed to manage the traffic over the duration of the incident.”

Derry city SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said this is not the first time properties in these areas have been badly flooded.

“Our council area stretches from Derry to Strabane, and we had a lot of flooding in Strabane, Eglinton and then in the city of Derry itself. People who were affected by this pulled together and worked together with a great community spirit to help their neighbours out,” he said.

“That involved getting sandbags out to the affected properties to try and give some degree of protection to households who were facing flooding for not the first occasion over the past number of years, unfortunately many houses have been flooded on a number of occasions.”

Councillor Reilly said this flooding causes “mental trauma” for homeowners as well as the damage to the property itself.

“Every household that was flooded that I spoke to had been flooded in the past, so those people are dealing with unfortunately often not being able to get house insurance so therefore they have to pay for the cost of damages themselves,” he said.

“I think the people who were flooded back in the initial large catastrophic floods we had in 2017 are looking now, five years later, at having to pick up the pieces again for their family homes.

“The sandbags were distributed by local people who came along to the depot themselves, it was local community activists who made the impact. Residents are rightly fed up with having to continually repair their homes, often at their own expense.”

Castlederg SDLP councillor Steven Edwards said: “I’ve visited and spoken to a number of homeowners and businesses across the Derg who have been impacted by flooding.

“Apocalyptic levels of rain and surface water for many. My heart goes out to them all.”

While the west, mostly within the Derry and Strabane District Council area, was soaked the worst, far above average rainfall was also recorded on the north coast, with the Giant’s Causeway station registering 24.2mm.

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