RESIDENTS across the district are bracing themselves for yet more wet and windy weather today and into the rest of the week. As the clear-up operation begins in towns and villages, after torrential downpours swamped land and properties, locals have been left counting the cost. With weather warnings in place for the next few days, people in areas including Kilkeel, Newcastle, Castlewellan, Kilcoo, Downpatrick and Ballynahinch, will have been left fearing what is yet to come.
more serious damage in the village, where the river broke it banks and caused damage to two new houses. On Sunday night, Newcastle Chamber of Commerce in Newcastle made the decision to cut short their Halloween fireworks display because of the poor weather coming in. Outlining the situation they were presented with, the group’s president Terry Hutley told the Mourne Observer: “Unfortunately the high winds forced us to use smaller fireworks on Sunday. “We were immensely disappointed because we had something very big planned.
The wind, coupled with a swelling tide forced us and the coastguard into calling the fireworks into an early launch. “The damage that happened throughout the town later in the night reassured us that we made the right call in using smaller fireworks on Sunday night.” On Monday night the Newcastle and Kilkeel Coastguard teams were called out at 10pm. One of Newcastle team’s vehicles was tasked to Newry to support a multi-agency operation to deal with major flooding in the city. They joined up with members of Bangor Coastguard, Lagan Search and Rescue, Lough Neagh Search and Rescue and the NI Fire and Rescue Service.
That team wasn’t stood down until 5am. Other members of Newcastle Coastguard conducted flood patrols until 1.30am yesterday around the greater Newcastle area. Water was high everywhere but there were no reports of any major flooding – with the Kilkeel and Ballagh roads difficult to navigate in places but remained open, whilst the main through Ballymartin and Glasdrumman was treacherous but remained open throughout the night. Sea levels in Dundrum came within two feet of the of the village’s pier wall; and there was a similar situation at Newcastle Harbour whilst at the town’s Islands Park the floodwater came within 12 inches of spilling into the car park where a number of motor homes were parked up for the night.
Just a few hours later, local coastguards were called out again, at 5.15am, to go to Kilkeel to assist at the harbour where a number of small boats had capsized or sank. Other team members spent several hours conducting safety patrols, with special emphasis on the volume of river water running into the harbour. They remained at the harbour overnight.