Elliott calls for Fermanagh flood strategy as swathes of county remain underwater

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill visits Enniskillen. Pictured along with Rivers Agency chief executive David Porter
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill visits Enniskillen. Pictured along with Rivers Agency chief executive David Porter
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A long-term strategy to manage water levels in Lough Erne is required to alleviate flooding hardship the area’s MP has said.

Tom Elliott was commenting as large swathes of Co Fermanagh remained underwater following days of high rainfall.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP said further rain on Friday meant there was no end in sight to the current problems.

“There is a sustained period of flooding. Some roads are still impassable and people are still having to use tractors to get in and out of laneways,” he said.

He said the Rivers Agency and Roads Service had reacted quite well, but that “these floods are different to last weekend”.

He said: “I think then Roads Rervice and the Rivers Agency just weren’t on the ball in checking manholes and checking culverts regularly enough.

“Those floods came quickly, but certainly there is a longer-term strategic issue around the management of Lough Erne, and how they do that in conjunction with Ballyshannon Electricity Supply Board.”

Mr Elliott added: “I would say it’s probably the worst since the floods of 2009, and it’s probably now getting close to that level of seriousness.”

Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill was in Fermanagh on Friday to see the problems first hand, and watched Rivers Agency staff use pumps to divert water away from Enniskillen town centre and into Lough Erne.

“Our infrastructure has been severely tested over the past week and it has stood up well and has prevented the situation affecting many more people,” she said.

“Rivers Agency, along with other responders, have been working hard to keep damage and disruption to a minimum as Lough Erne has reached its highest level for six years.”

VEHICLES TRAPPED:

There are reports of more than 100 vehicles having been trapped in floodwater, with one recovery specialist lifting 55 in just a few days.

David Browne of Lakeland Recovery near Kinawley said the number of call-outs has reduced but there were still a few cases on Friday.

“I can remember being as busy due to snow but never for water problems. The flooding is making life difficult for us too,” he said.

“If we have to drive around the country, if it’s usually [a journey of] 10 miles then we’ll maybe have to drive 20 miles to get around the flooding,” Mr Browne added.