Over a quarter of a million pounds in emergency fund assistance has been paid out to those impacted by the floods across Londonderry and Strabane.
The local council has confirmed that up to £270,000 has been paid out so far less than a week on from the freak downpours.
The council has now received over 560 requests for assistance under the Emergency Payment Scheme, which was made available by the Department for Communities to assist those worst affected by the floods in the city and district.
Grants of up to £1,000 have been issued to residents affected by the flooding, which devastated some parts of the city and district.
A spokesperson for Derry City & Strabane District Council said: “Council in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies has been working in close collaboration throughout the bank holiday weekend to deal with the clean-up operation and to provide a wide range of support and assistance for those affected.
“Technical staff from the council have visited 98% of the properties that are registered and priority has being given to continue that work in the coming days to complete inspections and advance with payments to those affected.
“Anyone who has not yet registered their property are encouraged to contact the council on 028 71253253. The council offices will remain open from 8am to 10pm to facilitate this.”
The two Flood Help Centres at YMCA Drumahoe and Eglinton Community Centre will remain open from 8am to 10pm today and bank holiday Monday with representatives from a range of agencies in attendance to offer advice and assistance in terms of the level of support that is available including information on entitlements, insurance claims.
A range of services continue to be provided at both centres including the collection of bulky waste, assistance with moving bulky items, free food, teas and coffee, shower facilities, clothing and the supply of general cleaning supplies.
In addition to residents, there is also some help available to local businesses affected by the floods, with representatives from the council’s business support team on hand to offer advice and assistance. Businesses are also being advised that they may be entitled to rates relief under the Land and Property Services Hardship Scheme, and are encouraged to visit the website to download the forms at - www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/sites/default/files/LPS-Hardship-Relief-Factsheet-And-Application-Form-18Sep2015.pdf
There is also some support available to farmers and the rural community from the DAERA - including a Rural Support Listening ear and signposting service that is accessible at 028 8676 0040 or Helpline 0845 606 7607.
Officers from Council have also been out on the ground in rural areas including Glenelly, Castlederg and Plumbridge offering advice and support.
A number of benefits have been identified that under the Fuel Poverty Services and Affordable Warmth Grant scheme that could assist householders towards the repair of windows, the upgrade of heating and cavity wall installation, and those affected by the floods are urged to contact the Council’s Affordable Warmth Team to see if they are eligible.
Council’s Community Services team continue to work on the ground in close partnership with the Red Cross to co-ordinate offers of donations and assistance from businesses and distributing them to those in need.
The council’s cleansing teams continue to work proactively in assisting with the clean-up and are providing skips and bulky waste collections for residents at a number of sites, with a cautionary note to everyone that they make sure that an appropriate record is kept for any private insurance claims. Opening hours at the Recycling Centre at Eglinton were extended to facilitate the clean-up operation and will open as follows - 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday (until September 1) and 8am – 5pm Saturday, September 2.
As the scale of the incident starts to become apparent to people, the need for emotional support and a listening ear has been acknowledged and a range of support services including trained counsellors are available.
The Western Trust has established a Helpline for those who are in need of emotional support as a result of the floods, the Listening Ear Service line is set to commence on Tuesday 29 August and will operate Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5pm – Tel 07903990897. Anyone in need of any support or who finds themselves in distress are encouraged to contact Lifeline at 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans at 028 71 265511.
The public are reminded that in the event of any further incidents of flooding, they should contact the flooding incident line on 0300 2000 100.
Calls taken by the incident line staff are passed to the relevant responding Agency. The public are advised to be patient, that all calls will be answered but that waiting times may be longer when there is a high volume of calls.
Information about preparing for possible flooding, and what to do after a flood, is available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/flooding-your-area and also on the Council homepage at www.derrystrabane.com