Studies conducted following the devastating flooding of August 2017 have identified measures to reduce any future risk, the Derry News has learned.
Hundreds of people were left homeless in the local area with houses in Drumahoe and Eglinton bearing the brunt of the damage when flash floods struck the North West two years ago on August 22/23.
Over 100 people had to be rescued by the Fire Service when they became trapped by the water.
Consulting Engineers have since been commissioned to carry out Feasibility Studies to assess the flood risk to properties in the Drumahoe, Eglinton and Derry City areas.
The purpose of these studies was to investigate a range of options in order to determine if there were any economically viable flood alleviation measures which would reduce the impacts of flooding.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said Drumahoe and Eglinton studies are now nearing completion and have identified viable schemes in both areas.
A spokesman explained that several options have been considered, including the provision of flood defences such as walls and embankments and the upsizing of culverts.
A combination of these measures have been deemed most suitable.
The Department now plans on progressing the Feasibility Studies to Design Stage, subject to gaining the necessary approvals for the preferred options and the “availability of funding”.
“On completion the Department plans to progress the feasibility studies to Design Stage, subject to gaining the necessary approvals for the preferred option and the availability of funding.
“In addition, in order to further reduce the impact of flooding for areas at known flood risk, community resilience groups are being established in Drumahoe and Eglinton. This will help communities in these areas be more prepared for, and resilient to, any future flooding that may occur,” a spokesman added.
In addition, work on the Derry Study is on-going. This study will investigate not only the potential impact of fluvial flooding but also the potential impact of coastal flooding on the city.
It is anticipated that the draft report will be received by the Department by Autumn of this year.
‘Focus’
SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan said funding for flood defences must be secured but in the meantime practical steps should be taken to ensure drains and gullies are clear.
"While most of the physical damage has been repaired, there is still a fair bit to do.
"It must also be acknowledged that significant work has been done on the design of flood alleviation schemes for Eglinton and Drumahoe - we must ensure that the funding to implement these measures, which will give protection and peace of mind to residents, is forthcoming from the Department.
"However, it would help greatly in the meantime if some focus and finance was put into simple measures such as ensuring drains and gullies are cleared and kept clear.
“While I understand the nuances between resource and capital expenditure, it seems crazy to people in Eglinton that the same Department that is proposing to spend millions on a flood alleviation scheme says that it hasn't got the money to carry out basic but essential maintenance now that will reduce the likelihood and impact of flooding.''
Around £11m has been spent carrying out repairs two years on from once in a century flooding that hit Derry.
The North West flooding of August 2017 saw 60% of the average rainfall for August fall with an 8-9 hour period.
The magnitude of the flood was “unprecedented”, the DfI said, much of which exceeded a 1 in 100 year flood event meaning there was a 1% chance of it happening in any given year.
More than 200 roads were impacted as a result of the flooding with over 70 being closed in the aftermath, around 650 bridges were affected with 89 damaged to varying degrees.
As well as significant impacts on the transport network, flood defences were substantially damaged in numerous locations.
Repairs
A total of £12.7 million was allocated for the repair of the flood damage to roads, rivers and bridges. To date around £11m has been spent by the Department.
The multi-agency review into flooding was published in March 2018. The review made 14 wide ranging recommendations to assist organisations and those affected by flooding to be more prepared for and resilient to the impacts of flooding in the future.
A DfI spokesperson said: “To date good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations, with five already completed.
“Completed recommendations will, amongst other benefits, further enhance community resilience to flooding and provide continued clarity in relation to development and flood risk.
“It is anticipated that all the remaining recommendations will be addressed by mid-2020.”
Within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area and Fermanagh and Omagh Council area some 200 roads were damaged by the flooding event, many seriously.
Damage caused by flood water included the depositing of mud/material on roads as a result of landslides, large sections of roads washed away, culverts and drainage systems damaged or blocked and roadside verges eroded due to flood waters.
All available resources were directed to repairing affected roads and returning them to a serviceable condition as soon as practicable. Within six weeks 90% of the roads damaged by the flooding were reopened to traffic.
Since August 2017 extensive remedial and repair work in the North West area has been undertaken to return the road network to a serviceable condition at a cost of over £7.5million for roads related repair work.
The initial assessment of the 650 bridges within the flood affected area found 89 to be in need of remedial works as a result of flooding damage. Five of these bridges were damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced.
Three of these structures have now been replaced at a cost of just over £300k. Procurement of the two remaining bridges, Glenrandal Bridge, Park and Bracky Bridge, Beragh is being progressed with a view to delivering both schemes later this financial year at a total estimated cost of £950k.
Repair of the other 84 damaged bridges, including Ballynameen Bridge, Claudy, cost approximately £1.8m and is now substantially complete. The total estimated cost of repair of the bridge stock damaged by the August 2017 flooding is £3.1m.
All repair works carried out by DfI Rivers have been completed at a cost of £1.35m.
Rivers completed 122km of river channel works and 3.2km of repairs on flood defences.

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