13 December 2005

Minister speeds up flood money


About 160 homes were affected by the flooding

Belfast residents whose homes were damaged in flooding will not have to wait to get financial help, the government has said.

NI Minister Shaun Woodward has promised compensation payments will be given to flood victims in the lower Ormeau within the next few days.

Payments of between £1,000 and £2,000 will be given to 43 households.

Homeowners in the area have been waiting for payouts since their homes were flooded earlier this month.

Mr Woodward met residents from the area on Tuesday.

The Water Service had said it could not make payments until it was sure it was liable for the damage.

However, Mr Woodward said it had now been established that the flooding had been caused by a number of factors including a pump failure and a partially blocked downstream sewer.

"I sympathise with the obvious distress this has caused the residents affected and I will ensure that Water Service will implement a range of measures recommended in the report," he said.

"I would like to assure residents that a very thorough investigation has been completed and that I am totally committed to making the full findings from the report available in due course."

Shaun Woodward has said residents will be compensated

On Monday, angry homeowners went to Stormont to hand in a petition demanding compensation for the damage done to their houses.

Local representatives insist emergency payments have been made in the past without anyone admitting liability.

The Housing Executive has already replaced its residents' flood-damaged furniture, but private tenants with home insurance will have to wait.

Heavy rain on 1 December led to flooding which washed raw sewage into about 160 homes and onto streets in lower Ormeau for the fourth time in the last five years.

It could take months for the houses to dry out.

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