Families left with nowhere to go after flood water swept through their homes have spoken of their relief at finally having a bed of their own after nearly two months of homelessness.
Severe flooding in August caused devastation in the village of Eglinton on the outskirts of Londonderry, with some homes submerged in as much as four feet of filthy flood water contaminated with sewage.
The worst affected houses won’t be habitable again until Christmas, months after the flooding.
This has forced many residents to rely on the kindness of friends and family to keep a roof over heir heads in the weeks since the floods.
Just under a dozen families have been living in mobile homes at an emergency site in the St Canice’s Park area of Eglinton, one of the worst hit by August’s floods, since Monday last week.
Having lost even the most basic possessions to the flooding, they have been provided with ‘starter packs’ containing cutlery, bedding and other essentials.
Speaking to the News Letter, residents spoke of their relief at finally having a bed of their own.
Martina Thompson said: “Everything in the downstairs in my home was destroyed. Everything I own, gone. It was awful. I am glad to finally have somewhere.
“It is not a permanent solution but the Housing Executive tell me they are aiming to have everyone back in by Christmas, which is still some way off. My own house hasn’t even dried out yet.”
Jacqueline McCready is now living in one of the mobile homes with her three daughters, Jackie, Debbie and Zara.
She said: “Everything the water touched has had to be thrown out. People say they are just things but there are memories as well. It’s been very difficult this past few weeks. We are glad now that we finally have somewhere to sleep.”
However, at least one family have found the temporary accommodation unsuitable.
Keith and Carol O’Hara, whose 20-year-old daughter Caoimhe has autism spectrum disorder, said it has been a difficult few weeks.
“We’ve been sleeping on an airbed, all three of us in one room with me on the sofa, in Carol’s brother’s house,” Keith said. “Unfortunately the change of routine and the noise of the generators at night has been too much for Caoimhe and we’re going to have to move again.”