City of Derry Airport reopens as massive floods clean-up continues

Passengers check in at the City of Derry Airport on Thursday after the clean-up operation
Passengers check in at the City of Derry Airport on Thursday after the clean-up operation

The City of Derry Airport has reopened its doors as clean-up operations continued across the flood-hit north west.

All flights at the facility had been grounded on Wednesday after torrential downpours left a trail of destruction in counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Donegal.

Flooding at the City of Derry Airport on Wednesday

Flooding at the City of Derry Airport on Wednesday

It was feared that the council-owned airport could be shut for a number of days due to the damage sustained by the flood waters.

But today, the scene of devastation had disappeared, replaced by throngs of passengers as flights to and from the airport resumed.

A spokesperson for the airport said that the facility was now fully operational once again, adding: “We would like to extend our thanks to Rivers Agency and Derry City and Strabane Council for all their assistance over the last few days.”

As the clean-up operation continues, hundreds of staff from across various agencies are working with local communities to reopen roads, pump water and salvage homes and businesses.

Farmers were among those counting the costs, as farm land was submerged and livestock swept away, on a night when 63% of the average rainfall for all of August came down in around nine hours.

Chicken processor Moy Park confirmed that around 55,000 adult birds were killed by the flood waters at two farms in Co Tyrone.

A spokesperson for the poultry giant said it has been on the ground helping the farmers with the clear-up and providing “practical help, moral support and guidance” to help get these family-run businesses fully operational again as soon as possible.

Moy Park also confirmed that the NI Environment Agency has been informed about the loss of livestock.

Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Noel Lavery said NIEA has been working to determine the type, source and scale of any pollution within the flooded areas.

This includes the potential impact of any pollution caused to the River Faughan from cars which had been swept away by the floods.

He said: “Given the volume of floodwater dilution, any impact of pollution from these vehicles is likely to be negligible.

“In cases such as this, petrol or diesel will naturally evaporate. Safe inspection and recovery will be possible only when the current flow of the river abates.”

The authorities have been criticised for their response to the severe flooding amid calls for major investment in infrastructure west of the Bann.

Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said “questions need to be answered” about the state of preparedness and the response of some statutory agencies.

SDLP infrastructure spokesperson Daniel McCrossan said that the damage caused by Tuesday night’s flooding “could have been minimised”.

The West Tyrone MLA said the lack of a functioning Executive was having “devastating consequences” on people’s lives.

“No one could prevent damage completely, but it could have been minimised. This simply did not happen,” he added.

“Emergency plans should have been enforced on the night, not 14 or more hours later.”

Mr McCrossan said there now needs to be major investment in infrastructure and a full review of flood prevention measures.

“People feel let down, as many had been warning the authorities for years that this could happen,” he told the News Letter.

The Department of Infrastructure has pledged financial support for home owners affected by the floods.

Anyone whose homes or premises have been affected by the floods and who are in need of assistance are urged to contact Derry City and Strabane Council on 028 71 253253.