Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has raised a number of issues with the Infrastructure Minister this afternoon following severe flooding in Newcastle.
Speaking after writing to the Minister, the South Down MP said:
“There is complete devastation for so many families here today after the Shimna River burst its banks resulting in what many locally believe to be the worst flooding in living memory here in Newcastle.
“My heart goes out to those who now find themselves – through no fault of their own – having to pick up the pieces after such widespread destructive flooding.
“On behalf of the local community I want to express sincere thanks and gratitude to those emergency services and local volunteers for their selfless efforts today in helping residents evacuate their homes safely.
“However, there is growing anger here this afternoon that authorities appeared to be so unprepared for this event, given the fact the Department of Infrastructure knew this storm was coming, why weren’t they prepared in advance?
“Why were sandbags and other emergency equipment not on location yesterday? Instead, families were left scrambling to find sandbags and water pumps today when it was too late.
“Looking into many gullies blocked with debris, local people deserve to know why gullies and storm drains were not cleaned out this week in advance?:
Calling on the Department to support families, Mr Hazzard added:
“I have also now asked the Infrastructure Minister to urgently review the existing Flood Alleviation measures in the town in light of two severe flooding incidents in the space of 12 years.
“As families start picking up the pieces in the days ahead there is an urgent responsibility on the Minister and the Department to support families impacted by the consequences of this tragic flooding incident and restore confidence that the Department is doing all in its power to mitigate these incidents in future.”