Northern Ireland

Portadown couple left devastated after newly renovated home flooded

Adrian McKernan and his fiancée Megan Rafferty had lived in Australia for three years before moving back to Northern Ireland just before Christmas
Image caption Adrian McKernan and his fiancée Megan Rafferty had lived in Australia for three years before moving back to Northern Ireland just before Christmas

A County Armagh couple who had recently moved back from Australia have said they have been left devastated by the flood damage caused to their newly renovated home.

Adrian McKernan and his fiancée Megan Rafferty had lived in Australia for three years before moving back to Northern Ireland just before Christmas.

They were preparing to move into their home just outside Portadown when heavy rains caused water levels on Lough Neagh to rise resulting in serious flooding in the area.

As a precaution the couple are staying in their home to ensure it suffers no further flood damage.

'Devastating'

"This is day 10 and we haven't had much sleep at all as there are pumps inside of the house because the water is still coming in," Ms Rafferty said.

"There's just so much to control so it's been pretty devastating.

"We've had to pull up all our floorboards we had to take our new kitchen back up the wall.

"We've had Rivers Agency who have been fantastic here around the clock checking all our pumps."

She explained the impact of the flooding on a personal level.

Image caption The couple's home is still surrounding by flood water

"It's devastating, especially because I didn't actually feel quite ready to leave Australia because we'd made a good life out there as well so coming back here to this happening it's just sort of straining me," she said.

"It's a lot of pressure on me and Adrian, especially when we're planning a wedding as well for next year so we don't know whether we're coming or going.

"We've to ask each other each day what day it is. We can't even start work because this a 24 hour job.

Support

"Adrian's father had to actually take a week off work too to help us."

The couple have been comforted by the support they have received from the local community.

"We've just received a hamper put together by St Vincent De Paul which is fantastic, just a lot of help from the community as well," she said.

Image caption Adrian McKernan spent several years renovating the cottage for his son and his fiancée

Work on their renovated cottage had been ongoing for several years and her fiancé's father, Adrian McKernan, had been heavily involved in preparing the cottage for the couple's return from Australia.

'Undone'

"The most heart-wrenching thing is that Adrian's father took a lot of time, took every evening to come down here and to help us to get home faster," she said.

"Now all his good work has been undone as the floors he put down, he's had to take up again and they have been damaged so they've all swollen so we're going to have to replace it all and replaster the walls because there are holes in it now."

Image caption The Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill visited the couple on Wednesday

Megan is trying to keep positive despite the desperate situation she has found herself in.

"This has never happened before like this in the last 100 years anyway and I'm just hoping that it won't happen in the next 100," she said.

"We just want to prepare now and make sure and try and prevent anything like this happening to us again because you know I'll definitely be on that flight back to Australia then."

The couple received a morale-boosting visit from Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill on Wednesday.

"She was basically saying that there will be help there," she said.

Image caption Pumps have been installed at Adrian and Megan's newly renovated cottage near Portadown to try to prevent more water from entering the property

"There's a certain amount of money that they are going to give the people affected. We're not the only people affected in this area. There's another two houses down the road so all we can do is really do the best we can with that money."

Doubts

Megan did admit that although the thought of packing it in and returning to Australia had crossed her mind, she had now decided to stay put.

"Since we've been back, I've just fell in love with it and I don't want to give up on it and I mean this area is beautiful," she said.

"I'm not going to give up but I'm hoping that we'll have the resources and the help there to get us through this."

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