Slideshow: Aerial photos show extent of flood damage in Derry and Strabane area as agency pledges more meetings

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Remarkable aerial photographs (right), graphically illustrating the extent of the devastation unleashed by the August floods in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, have been released to the ‘Journal’ and are being published today for the first time.

The release of the before-and-after images, captured by the Department of Finance’s (DOF) Land and Property Services (LPS) division comes after the Department of Infrastructure’s Rivers Agency (RA) promised to continued to liaise with local communities terrified their homes could be devastated again if adequate flood prevention measures are not taken.

The agency has confirmed it has scheduled a series of meetings in Eglinton, Drumahoe and Donemana, in order to address any concerns residents might have.

The pledge comes after Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan, wrote to the DFI Rivers Agency Director, Deirdre Mackle, this week, expessing concern on behalf of residents of two of the areas worst affected, namely, Eglinton and Ivy Mead.

Mr. Durkan suggested residents should be more closely involved in the clean-up and flood prevention planning.

“It is my belief that this would not only furnish Rivers NI with valuable information but would also give confidence to residents that action is being taken to reduce, if not eradicate, the possibility of a repeat of this unprecedented incident,” he wrote.

“Furthermore, if investigations in areas such as Eglinton and Ivy Mead have established all factors that contributed to the massive damage and distress that has been caused then that information should be made public,” he added.

“People here are literally living in fear and, in many cases, in financial hardship. This has been exacerbated by a massive hike in the cost of home insurance subsequent to the flooding. Can Rivers NI, in the event of carrying out work to improve flood defence systems and reduce the likelihood of future floods, liaise with insurance companies to inform them of such?” asked the SDLP MLA.

Responding to Mr. Durkan’s concerns a DFI Rivers Agency spokesperson said: “A number of further meetings to engage with the communities affected by the rainfall on August 22 have been arranged by Derry City and Strabane District Council for later this month, at various locations including Eglinton Community Centre, YMCA Drumahoe and the Dennet Interchange Office, Donemana. DfI Rivers will be represented at these meetings which will facilitate liaison between community representatives and relevant agencies.”

Mr. Durkan acknowledged the significant efforts Rivers Agency staff have made in attending to flood damaged area but said local communities wanted to be more closely involved.

“I wish to place on record again my appreciation of the work carried out by Rivers NI in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and know that you have been very busy since.

“However, I would be most grateful if I (and the public) could be provided with details of any investigations that have taken place in the Foyle constituency and any work, carried out or proposed, that will minimise future flood risk. People demand action and they deserve answers.”

The imagery obtained by the ‘Journal’ (right) was captured when aerial surveys of farm land, usually conducted every three years for the purposes of allocating EU payments, were called in early after the flooding. The photographs were taken in the Glenelly Valley on the far side of Sawel mountain, in the southern Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

The Glenelly valley, like Eglinton, Drumahoe and Altnagelvin, was one of the areas worst hit by the flooding. The images show the level of damage, which occurred in just one small area, when the Glenroan burn burst its banks.

The North Western Flood Risk Management Plan, published in December 2015, warned of the potential for significant flooding at similar watercourses such as the Burnagibbagh and Arnabrocky streams (Tullyally/Drumahoe), the Woodburn stream (Waterside), the Creggan burn (Creggan/Glenowen/Glen) and the Pennyburn stream.