28/06/2012

Floods Hit Northern Ireland

Sustained heavy rain last night left parts of Northern Ireland underwater with roads turned into rivers.

And as drivers were warned only to travel if necessary, a kayaker and a surfer grabbed their opportunity to travel by water, their images then being circulated around the internet.

NI Water said the flooding was due to "extremely heavy rainfall" and said it spent the night responding to 2,800 calls from across south and west Belfast as well as Bangor and Lisburn.

But Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said "serious questions" would have to be answered about how the floods had happened.

South Belfast MLA Conal McDevitt said NI Water and the Roads Service had been "caught off guard".
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Sarah Venning of NI Water countered infrastructure was "operational" across Northern Ireland.

First Minister Peter Robinson pledged to push for more funding, saying: "This is the kind of weather we can expect year on year and I think we need to have the kind of infrastructure that's going to deal with it."

About 1,000 homes were left without power in the extreme weather, and the Fire and Rescue Service responded to more than 700 flood-related call-outs in greater Belfast alone.

A Met Office warning remains at amber, or 'be prepared' and both the weather forecasters and NI Water believe rainfall and flooding will continue today and tomorrow.

The Fire Service has asked that callers reserve 999 for cases where a life is in danger.

NI Water's flood line is 0300 2000 100.

(NE)

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