Veterinary, environmental health staff and farming advisors from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs have been out on the ground to help local farmers respond to the flooding in the North West.
DAERA Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery said many farmers had been badly hit by the heavy flooding.
He said the department has had reports of livestock losses and damage to farmland and properties, with the Glenelly Valley and the North West particularly affected.
He added: “Since the early hours of Wednesday morning our animal welfare, environmental officers and CAFRE advisors have been working with farmers, industry representatives and other government agencies to help alleviate the impact.
“Our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency have also been working on site to determine the type, source and scale of any pollution within the flooded areas. They are also providing advice to the multi-agency flood response team and where possible taking action to mitigate any pollution.
“However, given that areas remain underwater and roads closed, it is difficult to access some sites and therefore too early to determine the full impact of the flooding event.”
Mr Lavery said NIEA was also working with Derry City and Strabane District Council and the PSNI to assess the potential impact of any pollution caused to the River Faughan from stranded cars.
He said: “Given the volume of floodwater dilution, any impact of pollution from these vehicles is likely to be negligible. In cases such as this, petrol or diesel will naturally evaporate. Safe inspection and recovery will be possible only when the current flow of the river abates.
“We are urging farmers to take extra precautions if working in flooded areas or damaged property to keep themselves, their family and anyone else working on the farm safe. As well as DAERA and CAFRE advisors, local vets are available to provide advice to livestock keepers concerned about the welfare of their animals. CAFRE will also be issuing an advisory bulletin to assist farmers in their recovery efforts.”
The advice to farmers and others is to:
- Not enter flooded areas unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
- Work in pairs or let someone know where they are going and carry a charged mobile phone.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing including a high visibility jacket.
- Take extra care when using machinery and drive slowly and carefully on flooded roads.
- Remember flood water can lift manhole covers so extra care should be taken and particular care is needed in deep water or where is it flowing rapidly.
- Contact their local vet if they are concerned about welfare or disease risk to stock.
Farmers whose homes have been impacted by the flooding can apply to Derry City & Strabane District Council for emergency financial assistance. Further advice will be issued by the Council about this scheme and will also be available on its website: http://www.derrystrabane.com/Subsites/flooding.
Farm businesses should also check their insurance policies and contact their insurance company about making a claim for losses and damage. There are more details at: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/after-flood-making-insurance-claim.
People can get information about what to do after a flood, including clearing up and making an insurance claim, at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/flooding-in-your-area.
For advice on animal health and welfare, farmers should contact DAERA on 0300 200 7840.
The NIEA water pollution hotline is 0800 807 060. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also provides a dedicated emergency pollution email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact CAFRE Advisors on 0300 200 7843.
The general DAERA customer helpline is 0300 200 7852 or email: email@example.com.
If you have a hearing difficulty you can contact the Department via Text Relay. Making a call from a textphone dial 18001 + number. Making a call from a telephone dial 18002 + number.