A rain-lashed Crossgar last Saturday evening experienced its first flood since 2007. Commercial and domestic premises were affected as over two feet of water quickly covered the main street.
Cllr Terry Andrews said: “Since 2007 Crossgar has been almost flood free. This deluge of very heavy rain on Saturday evening into Sunday morning set the clock back.
“It was tragic to see local businesses and homes flooded especially so close to Christmas. The water came gushing out from the Tobar Muire direction onto the street and very quickly premises were under a couple of few of water. A lot of damage has been done.
“Magees Bar was affected when the store flooded and The Wax Factor hairdresser was also flooded, a very difficult time coming up for them too, Christmas being their busy time.
“Back in 2007, Jim Shannon, now the current Strangford MP, was MLA then and called a meeting of the relevant agencies in the War Memorial Hall. By 2008 the various departments had found £1million to upgrade the rain water system which was successful in preventing flooding up until last weekend.
“The adverse weather conditions were a lot to blame for this flood. I suppose we may well be seeing the start of global warming in the longer term but the weekend storm was quite severe with strong winds and heavy rain.
“I was heartened by the community spirit of the local residents and business community. Many of us worked late into the small hours until the different water services were on site and got the problem under control.”
Rowallene Councillor Billy Walker, who was also concerned at the damage caused by the sudden flood, said: “ I would like to pay tribute to Cllr Terry Andrews for contacting the agencies and getting them moving quickly. He worked with their staff at the flood and they gradually it got under control.
“Any time is a bad time to have a flood but it is a very hard time of year to have a flood just before Christmas. Whatever caused it, there must now be a full investigation into the causes to ensure it does not happen again.”
Cllr Andrews added: “The last time in 2007 we had a flood, the Glaswater River had risen above the rainwater ducts and was pushing the water back up onto the street. There must be a blockage in the system for this to have happened. There needs to be a root and branch check to find out what caused it before it happens again.
“An NI Water tanker eventually arrived and pumped out one premises but there was a long hour wait for them to arrive. There were sandbags there on site but the water was rising so quickly that they were rendered useless.
“The clean up operations now begin for these businesses and some may be affected badly in the run up to Christmas. Over the next few days they will be clearing out but I expect them first to be taking to their insurers in the first instance before they can do this”.
A number of agencies will now be investigating the causes of the flood and their report will be waited on apprehensively by local residents and businesses.