He visited Eglinton, Coshowen, Ivy Mead and Strabane on his visit to the north west after 40 homes in the district flooded internally on Saturday. It is estimated that up to 300 homes in total are now being assessed to determine if they were impacted by the heavy rainfall.
Minister O’Dowd said: “Witnessing and hearing accounts first hand of the consequences the flooding has had on families and livelihoods is truly heart-breaking. I would like to thank everyone who came together to assist with the clear up and who provided food and shelter to the communities which were most badly impacted.
“I also fully recognise the need to introduce longer term solutions as swiftly as possible to reduce the impacts of further flooding. That is why my Department is taking forward a number of Flood Alleviation Schemes across the north. We are currently progressing proposals for three specific schemes in Drumahoe, Eglinton and Derry City.
“Ground investigation works have already been completed at Eglinton and Drumahoe which will aid design development and will be used to determine the type of defence that can be constructed at each location. Significant progress is being made and subject to being able to demonstrate economic viability and affordability, it is intended that these schemes could then progress via design and procurement exercises to appoint contractors for the works.
“In addition, the Department’s Living With Water Programme has commenced work on a draft Strategic Drainage Integrated Plan (SDIP) for Derry. This will consider a longer term 10-year drainage plan for the city and involves a range of partners and stakeholders across all areas of government.
“Decisions we’re making now have to be future-proof. And to do that, we must take into consideration climate change, and that’s what we’re doing. There are developments built along flood planes in many areas that today would not get planning permission, and quite rightly so. The reality is that our climate is changing. We’re going to see more events like we seen at the weekend and we have to be able to respond to them in a number of ways; preventions, response and insuring that we try our best to keep our communities safe. We will not always succeed because on Saturday we had 20 minutes warning of that event taking place and I think, in fairness to local communities and response agencies, they responded well. We will try our best to get it right on the night but we’ll also plan for the infrastructure that’s needed to respond to these matters.”
When asked about repairs to roads and manhole covers which were lifted and damaged by the flooding, the Minister replied, “each incident will be taken into consideration depending on the circumstances. My department and many departments are under funded as a result of many years of austerity and having no executive to agree a budget. So all those add to the problems and none of them give the solution but each incident will be taken into consideration and if urgent repairs are required, they will be carried out.
“As our weather continues to become more unpredictable I would urge everyone to be mindful of weather warnings and watch carefully on news bulletins and social media for regular updates. Please do not take any unnecessary risks in bad weather.”
To report incidents of flooding, please contact the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100.