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Residents call for ‘common sense’ at flood meeting

Beverly and Eric Thompson, Erin Kerr with Philip, Patricia and Erin Owens at the Church of Ireland grounds in Sixmilecross, which overlooks the flood plain where their homes have been affected during the recent flooding

FAMILIES from the Beragh and Sixmilecross areas who continue to be affected by the aftermath of a flooding disaster in August have asked government officials to adopt a ‘common sense’ approach to flood measures at a meeting on Friday.

There were heated exchanges at the second meeting held at St Michael’s Hall in Sixmilecross, where residents were joined by Rivers and Loughs Agency officials and local politicians.

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Beverly Thompson, one of three residents impacted by flooding, hoped that the meeting would result in more a‘common sense’ approach from government bodies in relation to the “protection of human life”.

“We are not asking for the world, only for our safety,” she said.

“The only thing we can do at this stage is to keep at the Rivers Agency. They need to see common sense and realise that human lives are more important than fish.”

Many residents feel that the practice of dredging would reduce the risk of flooding, although government officials are wary that this will have an adverse affect on fish habitat.

Following on from last month’s meeting, Rivers Agency representative Brian Stewart said an inspection of the watercourse was currently being carried out by an external consultancy agency. Action would be taken when the results were obtained, although he could not say when this would be, leaving residents unimpressed.

“The fact that residents are not being consulted in relation to the survey is unnerving,” said Beverly’s husband, Eric.

“In addition, having no time frame in place is ridiculous, and suggests this could take quite a while.”

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Ulster Unionist councillor Bert Wilson is adamant that the only answer is the creation of a flood-bank capable of accommodating excess river flow.

“I am by no means an engineer, but I feel a flood-bank is the only solution. The water must be kept away from the area. Furthermore, it would be by far the cheapest solution,” the councillor said.

West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan repeated his stance on dredging as an effective solution.

Aaron Kerr, whose house was completely submerged by the flooding, expressed his frustration.

“At this stage, we need to see less talk and more action. It will be at least a month before any of the survey findings are returned, and I can imagine progress will be slow thereafter.

“A definite plan of action is needed.”

Cllr Bert Wilson echoed this saying, “Reasonable action needs to take place immediately, as it is quite clear repeat flooding will occur in the near future. Residents were assured seven years ago that this would not happen again.”

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