Residents vow to stay for Christmas

The scene of the landslide at Marlborough Street.  (2012JB15)
The scene of the landslide at Marlborough Street. (2012JB15)

Residents of Marlborough Terrace yesterday vowed to remain in their homes for Christmas, despite the fact that a 50 foot wall behind their homes continues to collapse. It has also emerged that ownership of the wall may lay with the Saint Vincent de Paul.

Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood yesterday said that he had secured funding of £250,000 from the Assembly so that the necessary repair work may start immediately.

The Journal understands that ground rates on the site are payable to the Saint Vincent de Paul. The lands were bequeathed to the Saint Vincent de Paul from a Mr. Hannigan in 1910 and rates are payable to a trust with the administrator of the Long Tower Parish and SVdP named as trustees.

No one from the SVdP was available to discuss the matter, however it is understood they are aware of and are investigating the claims. The SVdP have also been working on the ground in the area helping some of the affected families.

Meanwhile Derry City Council have advised at least 12 families to move out of their homes as two landslides caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to property and vehicles, as well as exposing raw running sewage to those below. A second section greater than 50 foot tall and 30 foot wide, collapsed on Saturday. An initial section had fallen on Wednesday.

Some of the families affected were too upset to speak yesterday. They watched tearfully as the rear gardens of their Marlborough Street homes gave way, slowly continuing to collapse onto the rubble below. Entire garages and sheds have been destroyed by the debris and falling masonry.

Many of the families affected on Marlborough Terrace have already moved out of back bedrooms to the front of their properties.

One resident, Monica Wilson, who is pregnant only moved into her Marlborough Terrace home a week ago.

“Workmen saw the first signs of the collapse and let me know I needed to move my car on Saturday. The whole collapse came very quickly, I had only just got my car moved. It only took a short time, maybe an hour from the first large crack appearing until it all fell on Saturday,” said Monica.

“We haven’t even been given sand bags to shore up the back wall nevermind stop the sewage from coming in the back gate. My three year old daughter Teighan sleeps in the rear of the house but I can’t let her go in there at all now so we have all moved into a room at the front of the house.”

It is a dramatic Christmas period for the entire Wilson family. Monica’s sister Patricia and mother, Ann live next door and have also been advised to vacate the property until the remaining sections of wall are made safe.

Another sister Ann-Marie had just returned from hospital where her 17 month old daughter was treated for a heart condition on Saturday. They returned just in time to see the sections of the wall collapse.

“It is a hangover I’ll never forget,” she said. “Our main concern is for my mother now, she is refusing to leave her home as there is Christmas and our brother’s wedding to prepare for, he gets married on the New Year’s weekend.

Ann said: “I’m not moving out in Christmas week, this is my home. Where else would I go?

“I can’t use the kitchen or the toilet at the back of the house so Christmas is going to be hard enough without moving out totally.”

Eugene O’Donnell said: “We have been lucky twice, there have been two major collapses but no one has been hurt. I don’t know if we’ll be lucky a third time.

“We need work to start now.”

Derry City Council confirmed they have employed a specialist structural assessment to survey the work.

It is anticipated the report will also provide an update on any stabilisation measures required for the Harding Street area.

The Council spokesperson said: “Council will continue to undertake site inspections and would reiterate its health and safety advice.

“Residents in Marlborough Terrace and Street should refrain from entering their rear gardens or yards until further advised.

“They should not enter the back lane where the collapse took place.

This advice is also made to residents in the immediate area of Harding Street and Abercorn Road where a section of wall collapsed earlier this week.

“Derry City Council will continue to liaise with all the necessary public agencies to provide advice and support to residents at this time.”

This week local people and politicians including Mark Durkan and Martin McGuinness have rallied round to support families affected by the landslide.