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People paddle through a flooded Sugar Island in Newry Eadaoin Uí HEidhin
storm ciarán

Rain set to continue in Newry overnight following 'biblical' flooding that 'devastated' businesses

The PSNI advised the public to avoid the city today after flooding left roads in hazardous conditions.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 31st 2023, 10:15 PM

NEWRY IS BRACED for further rain tonight after the city was impacted by flooding that was described as “biblical” by a local MLA. 

The PSNI advised the public to avoid Newry City earlier today and urged motorists to take extra precautions when driving due to heavy overnight rainfall which left some roads in a hazardous condition.

A Status Yellow rain warning is currently in place in counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry.

It will remain in effect until 9am tomorrow morning, with the UK Met Office warning that another period of heavy rain is “likely to bring some flooding and transport disruption across Northern Ireland”.

F9wfAJOWcAAJdyS Flooding in Newry this morning Justin McNulty Justin McNulty

In the city of Newry, close to the border, a number of roads remain impassable and some businesses have been flooded, with people advised to avoid Newry City Centre “as it is experiencing unprecedented levels of flooding”. 

Speaking to The Journal, SDLP MLA Justin McNulty said businesses have been “devastated” by the flooding.

He has a constituency office close to Newry’s Sugar Island, which has borne the brunt of the city’s flooding.

The Newry Business Improvement District (BID) said it has already distributed more than 1,500 sandbags and have made canoes and waders available to business owners in the worst affected area.

BID has also purchased six “wet vacuums” to help with cleanup and is looking at possibly acquiring other equipment.

F9wfAJPWAAAgl1Z Newry City Hall pictured this morning Justin McNulty Justin McNulty

“Many of these businesses in Sugar Island have been there a lifetime and they are totally at their wit’s end in terms of the trauma that it’s causing to them personally,” McNulty told The Journal.

“They know that nobody has lost their lives or anything, but still, when you put your life working towards something, it’s very, very hard to watch that being destroyed in front of your eyes.”

McNulty spoke to The Journal from Sugar Island and said the “floodwaters are surging through the city now as we speak, the canal is flowing like a river”.

“The water is up over the height of the walls and the walls are looking like they could potentially collapse, it’s a very dangerous situation.”

‘Frightening levels of water’

McNulty said that while he has spoken to the statutory agencies to request that “all supports be put in place”, he acknowledged that “there is limited amounts they can do in terms of the levels of water”.

396700996_819841760149035_5550391912342152148_n Flooded premises of McCartan Bros in Newry McCartan Bros McCartan Bros

“People here are frightened but it’s really a community effort, people trying to help protect premises and the statutory agencies seem to be doing all they can.

“It’s frightening levels of water like I’ve never seen in Newry and it’s scary.”

The Clanrye River flows through Sugar Island and McNulty described the river as having a “torrential, biblical flood coming through it”.

He added: “It’s just incredible and apparently, it’s potentially going to get worse with further rain forecast and high tide as well at noon, so that’s worrying.”

Because of this, McNulty said businesses that haven’t yet been impacted by flooding are concerned that “they’re going to be impacted next”.

“They’re crying out for more sandbags to arrive, the council says that will be forthcoming but we need to see more action and more activity,” said McNulty. 

“Whether that will be enough given the levels of flood water, I just don’t know.”

Newry resident Desy Heatley described the scenes as a “repeat of what happened here around 35 years ago”.

“We were up and down here in boats,” he said.

“It’s pretty bad, I’m sure all the shopkeepers are raging, we’d no warning or nothing.”

Neighbouring Banbridge has also been affected, with the PSNI taking the decision at around 3pm on Tuesday to clear the public from the Solitude Park area of the town after the River Bann rose to a dangerous height. 

Louth

Nearby north Louth has also been impacted by the flooding, with the bridge over ‘The Big River’ at Riverstown partially collapsing amid rising waters on the Cooley Peninsula.

Louth County Council crews were in attendance throughout the county dealing with flooding and it advised motorists to take caution around North Louth and Dundalk.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys has confirmed that the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme will be available to those affected by the flooding in Louth and Wexford.

Under the scheme, €30,000 to €50,000 will be available for a single person, €50,000 to €90,000 for a couple and €10,000 to €15,000 per dependent child.

“I’m very conscious of the serious disruption that severe weather and flooding is causing for individuals and families in counties Louth and Wexford,” Humphreys said.

“The Humanitarian Assistance Scheme is open and support is available.”

She said anyone who may need to access the supports can contact the Community Welfare Service on 0818 60 70 80.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan expressed concern for those caught up by the flooding.

“My heart goes out to those up in Cooley, Carlingford, down in Wexford I know there has been particular flooding, as well as Newry, as well as what happened to Middleton (Co Cork) obviously a few weeks ago,” he told RTÉ Radio One.

Road closures 

As well as road closures in Newry, multiple roads are closed elsewhere throughout counties Armagh and Down.

398180177_655026540147428_3012161192802117172_n Roads closed due to flooding in Newry last night. PSNI PSNI

The N1 is closed northbound at Junction 20, which is the turn off for the Carrickdale Hotel close to Dundalk. 

The southbound lane re-opened at around 12pm, but is only passable with extreme care.

Gardaí have also warned of flooding on the nearby R173 in the Carlingford area.

Flooding in Newry and Portadown has also resulted in the suspension of the Belfast to Dublin Connolly rail service, with bus transfers operating between Belfast and Dublin, calling at Newry and Dundalk.

The PSNI has also said the Blackbridge Road in Poyntzpass is closed between Rock Meeting Road and Fourtowns School Road due to flooding, saying the road is “completely impassable”. 

The force said the Red Lion Road in Loughall is also closed between Kilmore Road and Annahugh Road due to flooding, adding that motorists should not attempt to access this section of the road. 

Weather warnings are in place across the North, as well as in Co Kerry.

A Status Yellow rain warning is in place in Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry until 9am tomorrow morning. 

A separate yellow warning for Antrim, Armagh, Down will come into effect at 6am on Thursday and remain in place until midnight. 

In Kerry, a Status Yellow warning for rain is in place until 12pm tomorrow.

The flooding comes ahead of further forecasted downpours later in the week when Storm Ciarán passes close to Ireland.

371546881_373997014964126_9060326290908150424_n A car submerged in flood water in a car park close to Sugar Island in Newry Eadaoin Uí HEidhin Eadaoin Uí HEidhin

On Wednesday and Thursday, Storm Ciarán is set to bring more heavy rain and strong winds, with Munster and Leinster set to be among areas worst affected.

Gerry Murphy, senior forecaster with Met Éireann, told Morning Ireland that there’s “no great news” on the horizon regarding flooding.

“There’s another band of rain going to push up across the country later on today, and it’s for that band of rain that we have the yellow rainfall warning in Co Kerry,” said Murphy.

“That’s going to bring more heavy rain at times through this evening and tonight, so places that are prone to flooding where water levels are very high, which they are in many areas and soil is saturated, there will be further flooding possible.”

While Murphy noted that tomorrow will bring a mix of sunshine and showers tomorrow, he warned that Storm Ciarán “will push along the south coast of Ireland on Wednesday night into Thursday”.

“That is going to push rain up mainly over Munster and Leinster, so the possibility of some further heavy falls on Wednesday night into Thursday in parts of Munster and Leinster and this will further exacerbate flooding problems in these areas,” said Murphy.

“The country at the moment, all soils are saturated and river levels are very high, so it’s like a bucket that’s full of water and you’re pouring more water on it and it’s tipping over in certain places that’s causing further flooding.”

However, he said the tidal flooding should not be as significant as it was at the weekend.

Murphy also cautioned that further flooding could be caused in areas of Cork that have experienced flooding recently.

“The rainfall amounts on the current indications are not excessive,” said Murphy, “so in a normal situation we would possibly be issuing a yellow level rainfall warning in relation to that.

“But given the fact that the water levels are so high and there is flooding in places already, then there is a threat of more significant flooding as a result.

“The rainfall amounts are expected to be heavy, but not necessarily excessive, but given the situation on the ground, this will possibly cause further problems so people need to be ready and prepared for that.”

Meanwhile, flooding which caused some homes to be flooded yesterday in Co Wexford has not receded.

Some houses in the Haven estate at Rosslare Strand were under three feet of water yesterday and several residents were taken from their properties in an inflatable dinghy.

river Councillor Jim Codd examines the flooding in the Haven estate in Rosslare from a dinghy. JIM CODD / PA JIM CODD / PA / PA

Alan Duggan, from the local Coast Guard, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the only way to reach people was by the dinghy because vehicles could not pass the flooding.

He added that the flooding hasn’t receded and that efforts to pump away 60,000 litres of water an hour has resulted in water levels dropping by only two inches.

With additional reporting from Press Association

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