Demands for action now to avoid flood nightmare

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POLITICIANS have called for urgent steps to be taken to avoid repetition of flooding in west Larne last Friday.

There were reports of storm water running like a river along the A8 dual carriageway and flooding at the Antiville roundabout. A flood spilled off the Drumahoe Road and into Millbrook residents’ gardens.

There was also flooding at Kilwaughter and Crosshill and along the Browndod Road towards Millbrook.

Assembly member Roy Beggs Jnr, who ventured out in a bid to discover the source of the water that flooded the A8, has now asked for a drainage survey to identify weaknesses in the system. Meanwhile, Cllr Gregg McKeen queried the efficiency and frequency of road gully cleaning.

Mr Beggs said it is not unusual to encounter surface water on the A8, but he described Friday’s conditions as “the worst I have ever seen”.

The Ulster Unionist representative added: “The surface water on the A8 is an ongoing issue and of particular concern because of the potential danger posed by vehicles being driven at up to 70mph and aquaplaning. On this occasion there was a river flowing down the road and a flood between six and nine inches deep at the Antiville roundabout.”

Setting out to find the source, Mr Beggs said he saw two separate “streams” of flood water flowing towards the dual-carriageway. One was feeding in from the Willowbank Road and the other along the Drumahoe Road.

“There was a huge expanse of water, some of which went in to people’s gardens at Millbrook and on to the Old Belfast Road,” he said.

“There is a major drainage issue in the area, which I suspect is due in part to the more intensive rainfall we have been experiencing, along with the development that has taken place over the years, meaning that less water soaks into the ground and so there is a greater propensity for flash flooding.

“I have contacted both Roads Service and the Rivers Agency to ask for a drainage assessment, to identify weaknesses, so that when there is storm water like this it can reach the proper water courses along designated routes, rather than flooding down roads.”

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Cllr McKeen urged: “These were exceptional circumstances, but I think Roads Service need to take a look at this and ask themselves if there is enough maintenance of gullies. In most cases on Friday, water was flowing along the roads or lying in bid puddles simply because the gullies needed cleaning. The question has to be asked: are Roads Service carrying out the same level of planned maintenance?

“We’re approaching the winter and something needs to be done to prevent this happening again. It’s not just a case of inconvenience to traffic - flood water was running into people’s gardens and in one case that I know of water entered a resident’s home, damaging carpet.”

The DUP representative added: “For anybody whose property has been damaged by the flooding, there is financial assistance available from the Executive by making an application to the council, who will carry out an assessment and can grant up to £1,000 to help pay for cleaning-up or moving out.”