Flooding: Seven-year delay for flood defences ‘unacceptable’

Image caption, Brian Molloy, who had to leave his home with his family for six months after severe flooding, says delays to flood alleviation schemes are unacceptable

It is “unacceptable” that flood defences have still not been built to protect homes in an area of the north west previously hit by flooding, residents have said.

Following severe flooding in 2017 a number of people had to be rescued, homes were destroyed, roads and bridges crumbled and cars were washed away, with areas such as Drumahoe and Eglinton among the worst affected.

In the aftermath, Stormont officials said flood alleviation schemes would be considered in those areas to help prevent the same thing happening again.

Further severe flooding caused widespread damage across the north west in July 2022.

On Wednesday, a Derry City and Strabane District Council meeting was told work to develop the projects remained ongoing.

Image caption, Cars stacked on top of each other in Drumahoe, County Londonderry after flooding in 2017

In a written update to the council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee, the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) said an economically viable scheme had been identified in Drumahoe, but its completion was dependent on it remaining viable and also subject to capital funding.

In Eglinton, the DfI said it had now appointed a consultant to review options for what it called a more holistic scheme to protect homes and businesses.

The meeting also was told a scheme to reduce the impact of any potential tidal flooding in Londonderry would also undergo a further review.

Waterside resident Brian Molloy said residents were still no further forward with any measures to protect their properties.

“We have been left in limbo,” he told BBC Radio Foyle’s North West Today programme.

He and his family had to leave their property for six months following severe flooding and their entire downstairs was destroyed.

‘Any time it rains we worry’

Mr Molloy and his partner, Emily, are in a community WhatsApp group with neighbours which helps co-ordinate a neighbourhood response if heavy rainfall is expected.

Emily told BBC Radio Foyle they were constantly worried about potential flooding.

“You’re just worried all the time that it’s going to happen again, you’re constantly looking out the window and you’re constantly checking the WhatsApp group,” she said.

Video caption, Flooding in July 2022 caused widespread damage across the north west

Mr Molloy said that there was a strong community spirit among the neighbours, but they they should not have to rely on each other to protect their homes when it there was flooding.

“Ideally we want to see boots on the ground,” he said.

“We would love to see diggers here to give people on the street here peace of mind and live without fear.”

Image caption, DUP councillor Chelsea Cooke says the seven year delay is unacceptable

Democratic Unionist Party councillor Chelsea Cooke said it was very disappointing there had been no further progress.

“It’s devastating for the residents who live here,” she said.

“I think seven years on and for the residents to have no light at the end of the tunnel is not good enough.”

Ms Cooke said she and party colleagues had met DfI officials on several occasions and would keep working on the issue.

BBC News NI has approached the DfI for comment.

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