NI thunderstorm alert - Flash flood hits Belfast city centre

Torrential rain led to the flash flooding of Belfast city centre on Friday afternoon.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 6:19 pm

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Heavy downpours and flooding have caused disruption across Belfast. (Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye)

LIVE UPDATES: NI thunderstorm and flooding alert - Businesses count the cost after flash floods hit Belfast city centre

Last updated: Friday, 06 August, 2021, 17:05

Businesses count the cost after flash floods hit Belfast city centre

Business owners in Belfast city centre have described scenes of panic as their premises were flooded following torrential rain - write Rebecca Black and Jonathan McCambridge, PA.

The Met Office has issued a weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy rain across Northern Ireland, which will remain in place until midnight on Friday.

Following heavy rain on Friday afternoon, incidents of flooding were recorded in a number of locations.

One of the worst affected areas was Berry Street at the rear of CastleCourt Shopping Centre, where business owners said ankle-deep flood water entered their premises

Ann McAloon, from the Absolute Beauty Salon, said she had not witnessed scenes like it in 25 years in business in the area.

She said: “Within 15 minutes the salon was flooded, we had no way of keeping the water out.

“The traffic was still going up and down so it was making a tidal wave and it was coming in, we could hardly even get the door closed.

“Everything was floating up and down the street. The council have arrived with the sandbags but we could have been doing with them a few hours ago, just to save what we could in the premises.”

Ms McAloon added: “We had clients in at the time, Friday is always our busiest day so we had to cancel all the clients for tomorrow as well, because the place is filthy.

“The business hasn’t come back up again from the pandemic because a lot of the people are still working from home, we don’t even know where you would start dealing with this.

“For Belfast city centre it is a disgrace. It was half an hour’s rain and within 15 minutes everything was just flooded.”

Stephen Conley, owner of the Foggy Brew coffee shop, said the rain started about noon and within 15 minutes his business was knee-deep in water.

He added: “There were a couple of customers sitting out the front and they saw the water was starting to flood. Five minutes later customers started leaving.

“Then it started coming through the door and got worse and worse and worse, it started getting up to shoe level. There was a woman with a baby in a pram that we had to lift out.

“The damage is starting to sink in now. I don’t know how long it is going to take to get back.

“It has never happened before. There were customers in the shop and we didn’t know what to do.”

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said about 50 homes were flooded in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

He told the BBC: “The water was knee deep, it entered a lot of the properties but thankfully the residents responded very quickly and we got on to the council and the Department of Infrastructure did provide sandbags.

“We were able to limit the damage but it has left a lot of sewage in and around the gardens. It has had a huge impact on Ardoyne. This particular area has flooded before but this is the worst we have seen in many years.”

The Met Office said the heavy rain was expected to continue into the weekend.

A tweet said: “Loads of heavy showers around N. Ireland at the moment, indeed torrential in a few places. Watch out for sudden flooding of transport networks. Unfortunately high rainfall intensities may also risk local property flooding. More of the same on Saturday.”

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said it was dispatched to an incident of flooding across two main roads in Belleek, County Fermanagh, in the early hours of Friday morning.

A tweet said: “Last night Firefighters from Belleek and Enniskillen Fire Station responded to reports of significant flooding across 2 main roads in Belleek. Firefighters from Ballyshannon Fire Station also attended the incident

“A male had become trapped in his car but was out of the vehicle when Firefighters arrived. Firefighters used a light portable pump and 10 lengths of hose to clear the flooding.

“While Firefighters were clearing the floodwater a member of the public informed them that a 65 year old man had had a heart attack nearby. 2 Firefighters attended the casualty, they provided oxygen therapy & used a defibrillator until an ambulance arrived.

“He was then taken to hospital and the Firefighters returned to continue clearing the floodwater. The road was cleared and left safe.”

Firefighters responding to flooding emergency come to aid of man (65) having a heart attack

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) firefighters came away from responding to a flooding alert emergency to provide first aid to a 65 year-old man nearby having a heart attack.

The incident took place in the early hours of Friday morning when NISFRS responded to emergency calls reporting severe flooding in Enniskillen and Belleek, Co. Fermanagh.

“While firefighters were clearing the floodwater a member of the public informed them that a 65 year old man had had a heart attack nearby,” wrote NIFRS on social media.

“Two firefighters attended the casualty, they provided oxygen therapy and used a defibrillator until an ambulance arrived.

“He was then taken to hospital and the firefighters returned to continue clearing the floodwater.”

We have contacted Northern Ireland Ambulance Service but have not yet received a response.

Met Office thunderstorm weather warning for Northern Ireland is now active

A thunderstorm resulted in significant flooding in some parts of Northern Ireland at the end of July.

Northern Ireland’s second of three weather warnings is now active.

The yellow status weather warning became active at 4.00am on Friday and is valid up to 11:59pm on Friday evening.

“Heavy showers are expected across much of the UK on Friday,” reads the warning on the Met Office website.

“Within the warning area these showers and thunderstorms will be slow-moving and may cause localised surface water impacts.”

The Met Office added: “Rainfall totals will vary considerably and not all locations will be affected by the heaviest showers.

“However, where the showers do occur there is potential for 20-30 mm of rain in a short space of time and during the course of the day there is a chance that some places could see as much as 80-100 mm build up.”

The current weather warning applies to all of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland weather service issues Level 2 heavy showers and thunderstorms alert

An independent Northern Ireland weather service provider has issued a level two alert for showers and thunderstorms.

The Northern Ireland Weather and Flood Advisory Service (NIWFA) issued its warning on Friday morning.

The warning is valid between 10:30am and 11:59pm on Friday.

“Heavy showers have been affecting parts of NI overnight and during this morning and will become more widespread to affect many areas throughout this morning, afternoon and evening,” said NIWFA.

“Some of these continue to be torrential at times and will be slow moving with large amounts of rainfall in short periods leading the risk of localised flash flooding.

“Flood alerts are in force for all counties.”

NIWFA added: “There is a risk of thunderstorms developing in places during this afternoon.

“The showers/thunderstorms are likely to be hit and miss with some places remaining dry throughout, although where they do occur you can expect - torrential rainfall, along with possible lightning, risk of localised flash flooding, possible localised interruptions to power supplies and disruption to travel.

“The public are advised to use caution if travelling.”

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