13/06/2007

Ministers meet to discuss flooding

Ministers of the local Assembly have met today to discuss the best plan of action after severe flooding caused havoc across parts of Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

The Fire and Rescue Service responded to more than 400 emergency calls while NI Water took almost 2,000 calls and nearly 40 people had to be rescued from their homes and cars.

Belfast and Omagh, County Tyrone were among the worst hit areas. Connswater Shopping Centre in east Belfast was flooded, with reports that water poured through ceiling vents, forcing members of the public to be evacuated.

Cars were abandoned, and Strandtown Primary School and police station were flooded. At least seven homes were also struck by lightning during the storm.

A major clean-up operation is underway today, with Avoniel Leisure Centre re-opening from 9am in an attempt to help residents of east Belfast who were particularly affected by the floods.

Finance minister Peter Robinson, who chaired the emergency meeting, announced that a ministerial statement will be made in the Assembly next week.

He also acknowledged that the two inches of rainfall placed the water and sewerage system in Belfast and other towns under pressure.

"Clearly there a number of areas as a constituency representative where I have heard from people about the inadequacy of some of the responses and those are the kind of issues we will look at where improvements can be made in the future," Mr Robinson said.

(JM/KMcA)


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