A FLOOD OF COMPLAINTS

SOME residents in Banbridge were housebound on Sunday as heavy rain flooded the entrance to Hillhead, making it almost impossible for cars to get in or out for most of the day.

One local man, who serves as a part-time firefighter in the area said lives could potentially have been put at risk as he struggled to get his car through the two-and-a-half feet deep water.

Johnny McKinstry was able to make it to an emergency call-out at 9pm on Sunday evening, but said had it been any earlier in the day he would not have been able to maneouvre his way through the flood.

The problem is one local residents say they are “sick of”, having coped with it for the past number of years - and the area has flooded three times in the past week alone. Now residents are asking for an investigation into the recurring problem and said they want to see a solution before things get worse.

“This is happening any time there is a bit of rain,” said Johnny. “Our downstairs toilet will be ready to overflow and the manhole covers in the garden will be sitting up ready to overflow. When it happens we usually have somebody out to fix it but we want to stop it happening in the first place.”

The 37-year-old, who has worked in the Fire Service for the past 16 years said what is normally a two-minute journey to the station for an emergency call-out became almost 10 minutes in the heavy rain and wind on Sunday.

“I made it out to a call-out to rescue sheep near Loughbrickland Lake at around 9pm but if it had been any earlier I wouldn’t have made it out. I had to drive the car onto the footpath and grass verge to get out. Other people tried that too and some ended up getting stuck.”

Locals claim a nearby water pump, built before the increased housing development in the area, is unable to cope with the amount of water used in the area now.

Town councillor Junior McCrum called on NI Water to address the problem. “There were people who couldn’t get in or out of the place at the weekend,” he said.

“I have been in contact with NI Water and they had an engineer out here on Monday. We looked at this issue last year to see if we could get a bigger pump in to cope with the excess water. At the minute the situation is that any time it rains it floods and that is not good enough.”

A spokeswoman from NI Water said their investigations found the water pump is not at fault. “NI Water can confirm the Pumping Station in the Hillhead Park area is operating at full capacity.

“Although there was a slight spill of sewage from a manhole on the inlet to the pumping station, the majority of the flooding that has occurred has been from surface water run-off and not because of the Pumping Station.

“The Station is constantly monitored through NI Water’s telemetry system and through regular manual inspections, the most recent of these taking place today and yesterday.”