Drumahoe flood plains could be extended

View of the car park at the River Faughan at Drumahoe, after flash flooding hit homes and businesses and swept away cars last August.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes /Press Eye.
View of the car park at the River Faughan at Drumahoe, after flash flooding hit homes and businesses and swept away cars last August.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes /Press Eye.

The flood plains around Drumahoe and Eglinton, which experienced the worst of last August’s flooding, could be extended by next year.

Jonathan McKee of DFI Rivers told a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council that the extent of the flood plains had last been renewed in 2013 and were due to be reviewed in 2019.

That would mean that larger areas would qualify for flood defence schemes, but could also have a knock-on effect to residents’ home insurance policies.

DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock said at the moment one home could be designated as being on a flood plain, while the house next door was not.

“I know of one example in Ivy Mead in Drumahoe where this is the case, where one person can get a grant for flood defences but the person next door cannot,” she said.

“People need to know if their house is on a flood plain when they are buying it.”

Mr McKee told the council that the single cause for last August’s floods was the “unprecedented level of rainfall”.

“The result was that the area was subject to widespread flooding, leading to significant disruption to life at both an individual and community level,” he said.

“But the flooding would have been much, much worse if we had the kind of planning policies which exist elsewhere in Great Britain.”

He said that since August three kilometres of flood defences within the council area had been repaired.

Robert McCartney of DFI Roads said that 200 roads had been damaged by the floods, of which 60 had to be closed, 89 bridges were damaged with five washed away and 2,900m of flood defences were damaged with further widespread damage to watercourses across the affected area.

“All roads, except two, were the bridges were washed away in Claudy and Park, have since been reopened,” he said.

“There was a delay of eight weeks in getting the necessary approvals for the repair of the bridge in Claudy and that is now due to reopen on September 29.

“There were also complications with the bridge in Park as it is a listed structure, but it will be completed by the end of the year.”

Local DUP MLA Gary Middleton said people were living in fear of the floods happening again and was concerned that not enough basic information was being communicated.

“Every time there are weather alerts for heavy rain, people living in these areas are rightly concerned,” he said.

“There are simple things that they need to know, such as where to go to get sandbags.”

He added that the rainfall gullies along the sides of roads had been cleaned out in the wake of the August flooding, but said that adding new ones would not help in the event of a repeat.

“These gullies are there to cope with normal rainfall and are not meant to cope with the kind of exceptional rainfall we saw last August which led to the floods,” he said.

SDLP councillor Gus Hastings queried if enough was being done to monitor the alternative routes traffic was forced to use because of the damaged bridges.

Mr McCartney said: “Once the bridges have reopened we will be inspecting them and will bring them back up to the proper standard as required.”