Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today visited Fermanagh to see first-hand the impact of the recent heavy rains.
During the visit the Minister, who was accompanied by Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, spent time with Rivers Agency staff working at the Derrychara Link in Enniskillen.
The Ministers watched as Rivers Agency staff demonstrated how pumps were used to divert water into Lough Erne in order to keep it away from the town centre.
Minister O’Neill said: “Fermanagh and the west has borne the brunt of the heavy rainfall. The storm has severely impacted people from all walks of life, right across the county. With just weeks until Christmas, many now face the difficult and dispiriting task of clearing up their saturated and damaged property. My heart goes out to them.”
The Minister had the opportunity to hear how Rivers Agency had been responding to the floods. She praised the multi-agency approach in responding to the flood saying that without this approach many more people would have felt the impact of the storm.
She said: “Rivers Agency, along with other responders, have been working hard to keep damage and disruption to a minimum as Lough Erne has reached its highest level for six years.
“Cooperation between the responders has been key and it is important that this continues. The multi-agency co-operationý protocols, put in place to deal with incidents such as this, has worked well. I want to commend the combined efforts of Rivers Agency, the emergency services, Transport NI, the local council and NIW in helping those affected. Every worker involved deserves our thanks. Our infrastructure has been severely tested over the past week and it has stood up well and has prevented the situation affecting many more people,” she added.
The Minister concluded: “I urge anyone who thinks they are at risk of flooding to view the Rivers Agency flood maps where they can access information which will help understand the possible impact. The maps enhance our understanding of the threat we face from flooding and highlight the importance of being flood aware.”
Minister Ní Chuilín said; “My visit here today with Minister O’Neill has given me a first-hand view of the impact that the flooding is having in Fermanagh. I know what a tough time it is for all given the level of flooding and the damage caused by the storms. As part of the multi-agency approach to dealing with the issue Waterways Ireland are working hard to ensure that moorings and jetties are kept as secure as possible.
“Their operational staff continue to take whatever action is possible to mitigate against further damage to assets in the Waterways Ireland estate that are used all year round by citizens and tourists and are central to the water layout of the area. They are also working closely with other agencies to ensure that there is minimum risk to the public. Mitigation measures have been taken to minimise flood damage wherever possible and this work will continue for as long as is necessary.
“I echo the comments of Minister O’Neill in thanking all those organisations who are dealing with this difficult situation and I ask the public to be vigilant and to stay away from Waterways facilities and associated access roads and footpaths until water levels have subsided.”
If you are affected by flooding, contact the dedicated flooding incident line on 0300 2000 100.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s on-call emergency number is 07711 388 566. Callers to that number will have their details taken and be advised of what assistance can be given.