As Derry residents were last night counting the cost of two landslides in the city, all asked the same question: Who is going to pay for this?
Marlborough Terrace and Harding Street residents are fearing they will have to fork out after two old stone walls collapsed in landslides caused by Tuesday night’s torrential downpours.
So far no agency has claimed responsibility for the structures affected by what one official described as an ‘act of God’, sparking fears over who will foot the bill.
Derry City Council said it is not responsible for the damage caused, adding that it will only ensure that the affected sites are safe.
Pensioner Paula Carlin, of 10 Harding Street, was distressed when a 35 feet-high wall to the rear of her property gave way on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a sheer drop at the edge of her back porch. She was yesterday counting the cost of the damage and contemplating spending Christmas without central heating as her nearby oil tank was bled as a safety precaution.
“I havn’t got a clue who is going to pay for this. I’m recovering from a chest infection and I have no central heating for Christmas with my family coming home,” Paula told the ‘Journal’.
John Doherty, who lives two doors down, also fears for his property.
“It’s very distressing not knowing who has responsibility for the wall,” he said.
SDLP Councillor John Boyle said it was a worrying situation for the residents.
“The initial assessment is that this may well come down to the landowners and their insurance companies.”
The Harding Street landslide was the second in a matter of hours. Early on Wednesday morning a 50 foot high wall on Marlborough Terrace collapsed onto three vehicles and a garage. It also smashed a tank containing up to 1,000 litres of home heating oil, which cascaded into local homes. Health fears were raised yesterday over a possibility that oil had seeped into the ground beneath homes in the area - a scenario which could lead to earth excavations which would force residents to move out.
The Marlborough Terrace residents share the fears of those in Harding Street. Marian Mullan, whose car was badly damaged, said yesterday: “Nobody will take responsibility for it . . . nobody has said we’ll get this sorted.” She said that insurance companies had been contacted but no assessment has yet been carried out.
The Marlborough Street site has been cordoned off and in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, “measures were taken to contain oil that leaked from a damaged oil tank”, a council spokesperson said last night.
She added that the Harding Street site will be secured tomorrow.In relation to both sites, the spokesperson said: “Officers are in contact with the owners of the affected properties so they can advise their insurance companies to make necessary arrangements to clear the area of debris and review repair work to the wall.”