SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

NI weather: Portadown residents almost knee-deep in water after flooding

Nigel Richardson
Nigel Richardson in his flooded kitchen in Portadown

Several homes have been damaged by flooding in Portadown, County Armagh, following more heavy rain in Northern Ireland.

Among the residents affected is Nigel Richardson, who was almost knee-deep in floodwater when BBC News NI filmed inside his house in Ripley Meadows.

"There was no stopping it, it came in from everywhere," he said.

During the past three days Northern Ireland firefighters have rescued 48 people from flood-related incidents.

Those call-outs included bringing five people to safety after they had entered water and assisting 12 people to get out of flooded properties.

Firefighters also rescued 31 people from vehicles in floodwater.

'It's never been like this'

On Wednesday, the ground floor of Mr Richardson's home was filled with dirty brown water.

His fridge was bobbing in a flooded kitchen and his bins were floating in his garden.

"I've been here 30 years and any of the neighbours will tell you - it's never been like this," he said.

Nigel Richardson going into his flooded home in Portadown
Nigel Richardson had to step over submerged sandbags to get into his home in Ripley Meadows

The residents tried to protect their homes by piling sandbags outside their doors, but the water still found its way in overnight.

"Last night, I went up the stairs about four, and it was probably about three inches [deep]," Mr Richardson added.

"I came down this morning and it was probably about seven or eight inches and then it's just gradually got worse all day."

He said he believes he will probably have to rip out his kitchen, his flooring and replace all his damaged furniture.

A flooded living room in Park Road, Portadown
Portadown Town Hall was opened for some Park Road residents whose homes were flooded

Flooding has caused widespread damage and disruption in parts of counties Down, Antrim and Armagh this week.

In the absence of devolved government at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Civil Service has set up a cross-departmental group to co-ordinate central and local government efforts to help those affected by flooding.

'Very distressing'

"Colleagues have been working tirelessly around the clock to mitigate, as far as possible, the effects of this major weather event," said Jayne Brady, head of the Civil Service.

"It is very distressing to see the impact this is having on families and businesses and whilst this remains an unfolding situation the response continues on the ground.

"Our priority is, as far as possible, to prevent risk to life and property," she added.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it received 162 calls about flood-related incidents between 18:00 GMT on Monday and 13:00 on Wednesday.

Its specialist rescue team, flood response teams and local crews attended 75 call-outs, including eight animal rescues and seven "water in electrics" incidents.

A lorry had to be recovered after flooding on Reenaderry Road in Derrytresk, County Tyrone

Paddy Lavery, from the Department for Infrastructure, said staff worked double-shifts throughout the night to assist those worst impacted by flooding.

Speaking to BBC Radio's Evening Extra programme, he said the department's flood line had received 1,300 calls since Monday and 20,000 sandbags had been prepared and distributed.

The Met Office said continued flooding and transport disruption is likely in Northern Ireland as rain continues to fall.

Water levels in the most heavily affected areas have receded overnight.

Further patches of rain and showers are expected on Wednesday but the Met Office has cancelled a yellow rain warning for Thursday as Storm Ciarán is likely to hit the south of England more than Northern Ireland.

More than 80 businesses hit in Newry

In Newry, streets and business on the County Armagh side of the Clanrye River have flooded, while the County Down side is relatively unscathed.

Some business owners in the city's Sugar Island area said the floodwater had caused thousands of pounds worth of damage when Newry Canal burst its banks.

Solicitor Kevin Neary said the basement of his premises was under several feet of water.

"It's the same as what happened in 2007 when we were similarly flooded," he told BBC NI's Good Morning Ulster.

"The consequence for a lot of businesses in Newry is that since 2007 they cannot get flood insurance."

Office furniture and boxes floating in water, photographed from the stairs
Solicitor Kevin Neary's basement is flooded and like other business owners in Newry he does not have flood insurance

Paul McCartan, owner of McCartan Bros menswear store, said it could cost him around £250,000 to repair and restock his shop.

He said it was "gut-wrenching" as "there are people dependent on me".

"But we'll fight through this and we'll get through it," he added.

Ice cream shop owner Michael Nugent said he was able to see the damage in his Newry shop for the first time on Wednesday.

"It was under two, three feet of water and a lot of the electrical appliances and stock have been ruined," he said.

"We're trying to salvage as much as we can, but all in all it could £100,000 worth lost in this store."

'Urgent help needed'

The Department for Infrastructure said more than 800 calls had been made to its flood incident line and more than 12,000 sandbags had been used.

They urged the public to stay away from flooded areas.

Many roads were closed on Wednesday across south Down and Armagh and public transport was disrupted.

More than a dozen businesses were flooded in Downpatrick after water rose on Wednesday afternoon.

The Quoile River also burst its banks onto the main Belfast road into the town.

Championship football team Annagh United posted photographs of their stadium in Portadown under deep water, while Ballynahinch United said its situation had worsened and called for urgent help.

This weekend's Down Royal horse racing meeting has also been postponed after rain overnight on Tuesday left "significant amounts of water lying in some areas" of the track, organisers said.

In Derrytresk, County Tyrone, homeowner Jimmy Quinn's house is surrounded by floodwater.

He said while his house has flooded in the past "this would be the worst now".

"I was down there this morning, I was down there twice this morning, but I'm not going down again," he said. "It's too deep."

Jimmy Quinn
Jimmy Quinn said the floodwater around his house is too deep for him to go home

The railway lines to Bangor and Londonderry have now reopened after being closed due to flooding earlier in the day.

Flooding of the line between Portadown and Dundalk affected the enterprise service with a bus now operating between Belfast and Dundalk.

Passengers will then be transfered to train which will operate from Dundalk to Dublin.

Analysis box by Louise Cullen
Analysis box by Louise Cullen

Is climate change to blame for the flooding in Newry and Armagh?

It's very difficult to point to one single event and say that's climate change - it is a cumulative effect.

As the temperature rises, then the atmosphere is warmer. That creates more rain and what researchers have found very recently by analysing those records is that rainfall in winter is becoming more intense.

In Newry, you can see the effect this has had.

The water has retreated a little, but this is a city reeling from something really nobody expected could happen here again.

A lot of people perhaps think of climate change as something that affects the global south and doesn't come to our doorstep.

Well the research shows, and now the practical experience very clearly shows, climate change is on our doorstep and it will affect our lives.

Gary Quinn from the Department for Infrastructure said there were "still concerns about Newry".

"There is a tidal influence, so we still have concerns around midday for potential further breaches of the canal wall," he continued.

"We have a high number of sandbags placed, so we have mitigated against those impacts as well as we could have."

The department is also concerned about Banbridge and Portadown, where the River Bann's level is rising, but Mr Quinn added that a significant number of areas have needed departmental help.

"There is some hope, I've seen some weather forecasts suggesting we might avoid the worst of Storm Ciarán," he added.

"So we're hopeful, we're not out of the worst, but we're dealing with and trying to mitigate those impacts as best we can."

Record levels of rain

Killowen, on the northern shore of Carlingford Lough, had more than a month's rain in 48 hours.

Between 09:00 GMT on Monday and 09:00 on Wednesday the weather station there recorded 110.4mm of rain.

The average for the month of October is 100.47mm.

In the Republic of Ireland, a status yellow warning for rain has been issued for counties Cork, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow.

Irish forecaster Met Éireann has warned of possible flooding in places as heavy rain falls on already saturated ground.

The warning takes effect from 19:00 local time on Wednesday until 07:00 on Thursday.

A status yellow rain warning is in place in County Kerry until 12:00 on Wednesday, while a separate yellow wind warning is in effect for counties Kerry, Clare and Galway from 05:00 local time on Wednesday until 11:00.

Strong and gusty westerly winds and frequent bursts of heavy rain are expected.

The stormy weather follows flooding in several parts of the country earlier this week, with homes and businesses in parts of County Louth and Wexford among the worst hit.