The recent flooding in Annsborough has once again caused serious problems for the local residents, many of them elderly.
One 82-year old Annsborough resident, John Rice, was stuck in his home for over two days as water and sewage bubbled up and flooded his front garden. Mr Rice said: “It was awful. I was trapped in my house for a few days. I usually go over to a carer close by who cooks lunch for me but this was just not possible. There have been problems here for years with flooding and the row of houses I live in seems to get the brunt of it every time. Something needs to be done.”
Jennifer Wood, a carer for John Rice, added: “John was simply cut off from society in a pool of sewage that spilled into his garden. It just bubbled up. John is a long-term resident in Annsborough Park and as a senior citizen he should not have to experience this sort of thing.
“When I phoned up NI Water I was told it would be up to eight hours before they could respond to the problem. This problem may be reduced to some extent if all the drains were properly maintained by NI Water. By late Wednesday night it just started to bubble up through the drains. I spoke to someone at the WWtW in Annsborough and he said a pump had gone off.
“The different authorities just have not managed to get on top of this problem of constant flooding in Annsborough. I’ve been here for 32 years and can always remember problems with flooding and sewage.”
Assembly Member Seán Rogers (SDLP) has engaged with the flooding problem after talking to residents and has welcomed the beginnings of progress to sort out flooding in Annsborough.
Mr Rogers said: “I have spent time on site in Annsborough when the floods threatened to ruin the homes of families along the Park and could see that the only solution to this threat is a long-term one.
“The initial reaction I got from a number of government agencies I spoke to was that it was not their responsibility. This was not good enough so I called on all agencies involved – Transport NI, Rivers Agency, NI Water and the NI Housing Executive – to come together and provide answers for the people of Annsborough.
“Since our meeting, I welcome the fact that all agencies involved have agreed to take forward investigations in the areas they are responsible for. We have established that one of the problems was a Transport NI gully which drains into the NI Water system, but the local pumps had shut down, for whatever reason, resulting in the gully failing to empty and the area subsequently flooding.
“NI Water have agreed to undertake an overdue clean up of debris around the park. Transport NI will now consider installing a second gulley to take up the slack should one overflow and will evaluate whether the pipes from the gulley to the river are working efficiently.
“Adding to the problems was the overflow of Castlewellan Lake which ran through Wood Lodge, down Mill Hill to the village. As the lake is privately owned, the Rivers Agency will now liaise with Forestry Service to establish what can be down to prevent any overflow from the lake ending up down the hill.
“I have also asked the Housing Executive to consider raising the boundary walls outside the houses to increase protection.
“I very much welcome the commitment from the Agencies to resolve this issue but I will continue to focus on this until long lasting solutions are found. I have seen what the people here have had to deal with and I will continue to work on their behalf to try and ensure this does not continue to happen.”