Prince Charles visit gives Londonderry flood victims 'a real lift'

Residents of Eglinton, near Londonderry, said Prince Charles' visit had given the entire village a lift following the devastating August flooding.

The Prince met with local residents, business people, members of the emergency services and volunteers who helped on the night and with the ongoing clean-up operation.

The Prince of Wales at the Eglinton Community Centre in Londonderry

Local businesswoman Rosemary Wright, who runs a beauty parlour in the village, said the Prince's visit helped keep the spotlight on the plight still of many people there.

"Just being here today has given everyone a real lift," she said.

"His visit means so much to everyone and I think that it will also keep the spotlight on the village and the help that people still need here.

"He was very interested in what had happened to me and was so shocked to hear that my insurance company hasn't paid out that he offered to contact them for me himself!

The Prince of Wales meets well-wishers outside the Eglinton Community Centre in Londonderry during a visit to communities hit by the summer's flash floods

"We have lifted the floors at the minute to let them dry out and maybe in the new year when it is totally dried out we can try and repair it room by room.

"It's going to be a very long time before it is back to normal.

"The way that I look at it is that the Prince coming here will keep the focus on the village and the devastation that did happen."

The Prince was accompanied by Derry City and Strabane District Council deputy mayor John Boyle and Chief Executive John Kelpie. Mayor Maoliosa McHugh declined to attend.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Jacqueline McCready was one of the first to speak to the Prince at Eglinton Community Centre, which was used as an emergency centre on the night of the flood.

"He was very interested in everything that we had gone through that day and wanted to know what had happened," she said.

"He also told us that he is trying to get the local girl guides out to help people get the shutters put on their doors to help in case there is ever flooding again here."

Jeannette Morrow, who has been temporarily housed in the Waterside in Londonderry as her Eglinton home is uninhabitable, said the Prince had taken a keen interest in her story.

"Since the flood, I have been hospitalised and am recovering from an operation," she said.

"The Prince said to me: 'Perhaps you shouldn't be here' and I told him, 'Sure, would I really miss you?'

"It gives you a real boost to know that someone like him cares."

Jonathan Tate, Group Commander of Crescent Link Fire Station was one of a number of people representing the emergency services to be introduced to the Prince and he said the memories of that night would never leave him.

"I went to one house and the car was floating down the drive," he said.

"When I got to the front door there was an elderly man up to his waist in water and inside his wife was stranded on top of a table. It was a bungalow so they had no opportunity to take things upstairs, everything was lost.

"I could tell from early on that evening that this was so bad that it would be still going on for a good year, year and a half."

Colleague Watch Commander Ashley Glasgow added: "We couldn't have done what we did that night without the help of the local community and people would have been lost that night without them.

"We owe a lot to people like the local farmers with their four-wheel drive tractors and I was able to clear quite a large area in a short period of time which I couldn't have done without them."

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