High tide passes amid flood alert

Published Monday, 06 January 2014
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Large waves have battered parts of Northern Ireland as more tidal surges hit the coastline on Monday afternoon, affecting coastal roads.

High tide passes amid flood alert
Portaferry on Strangford Lough,Co Down after high tides (© Presseye)

The high tides and onshore winds that were forecast had the region braced for flooding, but the worst extreme conditions anticipated did not occur.

Parts of the Ards Peninsula encountered the worst of the weather on Monday.

Police say around 45,000 sandbags were used to bolster defences, protect key infrastructure sites and help to secure homes in at risk areas since the series of unprecedented tidal surges started last week.

On Monday, precautions were taken along coastlines in Co Down and Co Antrim where emergency crews were on standby, while residents in parts of east Belfast again breathed a sigh of relief when the Connswater River at Victoria Park did not breach its banks.

"It looks as though today is the last big tide for the foreseeable future," John Wylie, from the Met Office, told UTV.

After the tide peaked at around 2.45pm in Belfast, the City's Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir tweeted: "Looking positive, tide now turning, and won't rise above 4.5m. Well done (to) everyone who ensured city stayed dry and safe. Great work."

East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long expressed her thanks to all involved in the effort to prevent flooding in Sydenham.

"There was a huge amount of effort involved in Sydenham to get the area ready for a flood that luckily did not materialise. Although the worst-case scenario did not happen today or last Friday, I know the work that was undertaken was a huge reassurance to residents during what was a stressful time," she said.

The east and docks area of Belfast had also been identified as at risk of flooding and there were reports of some surface flooding on the roads close to Belfast Harbour.

The PSNI has co-ordinated the multi-agency response to the flood alert since it started last Thursday.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, who was in charge of the operation, said: "The past few days have been extremely challenging and I'm relieved that the coastal flooding was not as severe as had been anticipated initially.

"I am pleased with how quickly agencies across Northern Ireland reacted to the emergency situation and formed a coordinated response team. We must always plan effectively to protect our communities, and thankfully on this occasion the worst did not happen."

"I would like to thank everyone who worked together during this operation. There were over 40 public, private, voluntary and community organisations involved who ensured that we were well placed to deal with all eventualities," ACC Martin said.

Conditions along the east coast remain hazardous. Police have warned the public to stay away from coastal paths and walkways and to drive with extreme caution.

In Co Antrim, police continue to advise motorists to avoid the Coast Road from Larne to Carnlough.

The A2 Coast Road through Carnlough village has been reopened. A section of the Coast Road between Drains Bay and Ballygally was also closed for a time, but is now opened and is passable with caution.

In Co Down, part of the Portaferry Road along the Ards Peninsula was under standing water on Sunday and police have advised motorists travelling along the road from to Newtownards and Belfast not to use any car park along the route due to the risk of flooding.

"Drivers are also advised to proceed with caution as there may be debris swept onto the road by the sea as well as standing water," a police spokesperson said.

The road has temporary traffic lights in operation just outside Greyabbey due to undermining of carriageway.

Part of the A2 Minorstown Road, Killough between Ardglass and Dundrum is closed between Bright Road and Ballylig Road. The A2 Station Road and Fishersmans Row are also closed but are expected to re-open at 5.30pm.

The Whitechurch Road is closed in Ballywalter after the road collapsed during Friday's storm.

A Roads Service spokesperson said the necessary emergency repairs to reinstate these roads will take some time to complete and the traffic restrictions will be in place throughout.

In Holywood the Esplanade at the A2 Belfast Road Bypass has been closed due to flooding. Motorists should seek an alternative route for their journey.

In South Down, the seafront at the promenade in Newcastle is closed to the public due to adverse weather conditions.

In Coleraine, Co Londonderry, police urged anyone parked in the Hanover Place area to remove their vehicle as the area is at risk from flooding.

The weather has been extreme across the UK and the Republic of Ireland in recent weeks.

The Met Office says Northern Ireland has escaped the worst of the unprecedented spell.

John Wylie said: "The wind direction has just about favoured us a little more than perhaps the coasts of Scotland and North West England. It has been a little bit more south-westerly in the flow. That gives us just a little bit of shelter.

"But you only have to look at the damage that has been caused around the coast, the huge over-topping waves that there has been, and that we've had a really close call indeed from something major."

Sandbag collection sites have been closed and details on how to store or dispose of sandbags can be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

You can upload your weather pictures to our gallery, tweet them to us @utv or email video footage to news@u.tv - take care when trying to capture pictures or videos and make sure it's safe to do so.

© UTV News
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6 Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (290 days ago):
@paul in Belfast. It's the police job to serve the community. You think they should just concentrate on Belfast? Wise up to yourself. There are a lot of rural communities that gave been cut off and damage done aswell you know. Portaferry is one of those communities which has been cut off. They can't get the boat and can't go around the peninsula. What do you supose they should do? Just wait for the police to sort Belfast out first? I think you need to get a grip. And yes it's not only the police. The road service and and water board have to share the resposibility. It's not like they didn't know it was coming.
Glenn in Newtownards wrote (291 days ago):
There were sandbags handed out at the Ards council depot. Saying that, how on earth anyone in the Ards peninsula were supposed to get there due to the flooding and roads being closed is beyond me. But then nowhere else matters but Belfast.
Mel in East Belfast wrote (291 days ago):
As a resident of Sydenham, I would like to say a massive thank you to our MLA, Mr Copeland, Councillor Dr John Kyle, the Psni, the Fire and Rescue services and the workers at the council depots who distributed sandbags, to name just a few. We really appreciate all you have done. Thank you.
vogielinfield in Portavogie wrote (291 days ago):
as am not far away from use (portavogie) I agree totally , all the attention has been focusing on East Belfast and we as a peninsula has been ignored, its a disgrace
Paul in Belfast wrote (291 days ago):
Leonie maybe you should be aware that the multi agency approach to limit the damage and aid the consequences of the flooding is exactly that, MULTI AGENCY. Why people, such as you think it is the fault of the police and grasp the chance to berate the police and practically hold them responsible for an act of God disgusts me. But well done your local councillor, although where oh where are your local council workers, the Water Service, Roads Service and all the other agencies? Stop running down the police Leonie and catch a grip of yourself.
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