‘Profound impact’ of floods was predicted

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A new report on the 2017 floods shows just how accurately the Department for Infrastructure’s (DfI) risk models pinpointed exactly which areas of Altnagelvin, Drumahoe and Eglinton would be affected by such a disaster.

The review acknowledges that the flooding of many of the 400 homes affected over August 22 and 23 last had been forecast with remarkable accuracy.

Heat maps of homes affected in Ivy Mead (Altnagelvin) and in Dunverne Gardens and St. Canice’s Park (Eglinton), for example, correlate exactly with what the Rivers Agency’s models predicted would happen in the event of major flooding at the Faughan and Burnagibbagh in Drumahoe, and at the Muff and Castle rivers in Eglinton.

Newly completed by DfI, Derry City & Strabane District Council and The Executive Office (TEO), the report states: “Flood waters rose to depths of 1.3m in some properties in Ivy Mead, Drumahoe and 600mm in Dunverne Gardens, Eglinton.

“There were also reports of water rising to over 2m in properties in other parts of Drumahoe.”

It further states: “In general terms the areas affected by the flooding correlated with predicted flood inundation areas as outlined in the DfI Flood Hazard and Risk Maps that have been developed as a result of the implementation of the EU Floods Directive.”

The authors acknowledge that the havoc wrought by the descent of 63 per cent of the average August rainfall in the space of just nine hours last year has had “a profound, and in many cases lasting, impact on the lives of local people, businesses and agricultural land in the areas affected”.

The evaluation praises the various organisations and first responders who helped co-ordinate the emergency response but also recommends that all of the statutory agencies learn lessons from what happened and beef up their response capacities.

It notes: “Historically, regional flood risk planning policies in Northern Ireland have been very robust when compared to Great Britain and other parts of Europe.

“The flooding in the North West has clearly reinforced the need for robust planning and flood risk polices to remain as local councils take forward their Local Development Plans.”