Flooding clean-up takes place after deluge in Northern Ireland

Bridge Street in Newry has been badly affected, with cars under water

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A clean-up operation is continuing after homes and businesses were flooded during torrential rain in many parts of Northern Ireland on Thursday.

The worst flooding was in Counties Armagh and Down, particularly Newry.

Several homes and shops were evacuated on Bridge Street, Newry, on Thursday afternoon because part of the street was under two to three feet of water.

On Friday evening, some roads were closed in parts of County Armagh, including in Portadown and Loughgall.

Earlier, Trafficwatch NI advised staff in Greenbank industrial estate in Newry to leave before a high tide at 16:00 GMT.

Further problems on Friday meant Bridge Street and several other roads across Northern Ireland were closed, although many have now reopened.

Newry businessman, Shealan Strain, who owns The Gentry clothes store on Bridge Street, said he tried to protect his shop with sandbags on Thursday afternoon but had to evacuate because of the volume of water.

The clean-up at The Gentry clothes shop The Gentry clothing shop in Bridge Street, Newry, was evacuated by staff who spent hours cleaning up the mess

"Within about 20 minutes it was coming in the front and the back, so basically, we just had to leave," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Mr Strain said when the water subsided at about 20:00 GMT, he returned to the shop and spent almost four hours cleaning up the damage.

'Already saturated'

However, he said has been told the street flooded again on Friday morning.

"So what do we do now? I haven't had one phone call from the council informing me of what has happened, what the plan is and if there is any chance of flooding again," Mr Strain told the BBC.

A bridal shop next door was also flooded, and it led to problems for one bride who is getting married on Friday.

Caroline Bramwell was due to pick up her wedding dress from the shop on Thursday afternoon, but was told it was inaccessible due to the floods.

However, local police officers came to the rescue, wading through the shop to retrieve Ms Bramwell's dress.

Bridge Street flooding Part of Newry's Bridge Street was under two to three feet of water at one stage on Thursday evening

Meanwhile, the Department for Employment and Learning's (DEL) temporary offices in Clarence Court in Belfast were flooded on Thursday.

They have been based there while their own offices in Adelaide Street were being refurbished.

A DEL spokesman said they had re-located back to the Adelaide Street premises on Friday because the flooding had caused a power failure, but hoped to be back in Clarence Court on Monday.

He added that services had not been affected.

Staff in the Department for Regional Development who shared an office with DEL in Clarence Court have also had to leave the premises.


Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, whose department is responsible for maintaining the roads network, expressed his sympathy to all those affected by the flooding.

Camlough in County Armagh has been badly affected by the heavy rain. Video: Destination Newry and Mourne

However, Mr Kennedy rejected Sinn Féin suggestions that maintenance cutbacks had contributed to flood damage to properties.

"The simply facts are, particularly in relation to Newry and Bridge Street, Newry, that a local river burst its banks not only yesterday afternoon but I understand perhaps overnight as well, and that's was caused the issue," the minister said.

"My early assessment of yesterday's and ongoing events around Northern Ireland has been the sheer volume of water coming down from the skies, impacting on already saturated fields and hills and run-offs, and water will always find an out."

Police go the aid of a motorist in Newry Police go to the aid of a motorist in Newry

Parts of Northern Ireland saw 6-7mm of rain per hour falling for three to four hours non-stop, on ground that was already wet.

The weather front started to clear to the north on Thursday evening, but, a dual rain and wind warning had been issued for Friday morning.

Castlereagh road is impassable at Loopland Park Castlereagh Road in Belfast is impassable at Loopland Park

Newry councillor Charlie Casey claimed that overloaded storm drains in Bridge Street in Newry and also in the Carnagat area had been the main cause of serious flooding problems.

He called for action to be taken to ensure it did not happen again.

'Place of rescue'

Late on Thursday night, the Mayor of Newry Dáire Hughes said the council had expressed concern about the rising levels of water in front of Newry Town Hall.

Whitehead The rain has been accompanied by strong winds, as seen in Whitehead County Antrim

Newry Sports Centre was opened on Thursday evening as a "place of rescue", for residents affected by the floods in the city.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has activated an emergency scheme for householders affected by flooding.

Glenn Cartmill The carpark close to Portadown train station and High Street Mall was also hit by flooding

"Individual householders who have suffered severe inconvenience can claim from their local council, £1,000 payment as an offer of practical assistance," he said.

"The payment is meant to ensure that homes are made habitable as quickly as possible. It is not a compensation payment.

Flooding on Massey Avenue in Belfast Flooding on Massey Avenue in Belfast

"If you feel that you may be entitled to the payment, contact your council as soon as possible and they will arrange for an urgent inspection of your property. "

River Lagan at Drumbeg The River Lagan has burst its banks at Drumbeg, County Down

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