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Clarke welcomes announcement of flood compensation scheme

18 August, 2008

South Down Sinn Féin Assembly Member Willie Clarke has welcomed the announcement by Environment Minister Sammy Wilson that householders whose homes have been damaged by the weekend floods will be able to apply for a special compensation payment from the government.

Cllr Clarke said:

"Environment Minister Sammy Wilson said those affected could expect to receive around £1,000, but the figure has yet to be finalised. It is also my understanding that Councils will this week be notified of the scheme so that people will able to make applications.

"The weekend's flooding was nothing short of horrendous with a number of towns and villages right across south Down badly affected. I was unable to get to houses in Newcastle on Saturday due to the Shimna Road being closed as a result of the Shimna River bursting its banks. On Sunday I visited homes that had been damaged in Larchfield and Elmgrove and I witnessed the tremendous efforts to clear up the damage caused by the incessant rain and also the great community spirit in the face of such wet weather.

"During the course of the weekend I phoned the emergency flood helpline on behalf of many householders living in places such as Castlewellan, Annsborough, Rostrevor Ballynahinch, and Newcastle and I am concerned that the response was less than adequate. However, the wonderful efforts made by emergency services and other statutory agencies during what was a horrendous weekend of bad weather must be greatly commended and I would pay tribute to everyone who played their part in responding to when people were in need of help.

"Newcastle's flood alleviation scheme probably prevented even further misery to hundreds of householders, but some local people felt it prevented water escaping. In the face of this week's extreme weather, there will have to be a review of the emergency plan and what extra measures need to be put in place as a result of all the flooding incidents which occurred. It is unacceptable that a number of drains and soakaways were blocked meaning the system was less able to cope with the excess rainwater." ENDS

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