12 December 2005

Residents protest for flood money


About 160 homes were affected by the flooding

Angry homeowners whose properties in south Belfast were badly damaged in flooding earlier this month are to demand compensation at Stormont.

The lower Ormeau residents waiting on house insurance say they are losing out compared to Housing Executive tenants.

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

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.

They are taking their demands for emergency payments to replace ruined furniture to Stormont on Monday.

Water Service spokesman William Duddy said on Friday he had sympathy for the residents but they had to wait on the results of an inquiry.

Rescue workers were called after the lower Ormeau was flooded

"At the moment, I cannot dip into the public purse and pay out on demand without a proper, balanced investigation," he said.

"We are talking about taxpayers money here (and) we want to treat these claims fairly and consistently."

Lower Ormeau resident Marie Lavery said she felt disadvantaged because she owned her home.

"Because we have house insurance, we have to wait on cleaners and on loss adjusters to come out to decide whether to destroy our furniture," she said.

"Some people have already got the go-ahead to get their stuff out because it's contaminated."

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 recent years.

It could take months for the houses to dry out.

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