Concern over town flooding

Concern over town flooding

8 August 2018

ROADS officials have been urged to address the flooding issues at the Market Street and Church Street areas in Downpatrick.

The appeal comes after businessman Paul McCartan revealed last week that his Market Street sports store has been flooded eight times in eight years. 

The latest incident came on July 28 following a cloud burst which also flooded John Young’s carpet business in nearby Church Street. This business has also been flooded on several occasions over recent years.

Mr McCartan’s premises were swamped after the huge deluge which only lasted a few minutes, forcing him to close for several hours to carry out a mopping up operation. He said the flooding started in 2010 when part of the footpath outside his shop was built out into the main road to provide a new pedestrian crossing facility.

Mr McCartan said the angled position of a granite kerb close to two drains “arrows flood water directly into his business”. 

He believes realigning the footpath would stop his shop from flooding, while roads officials described the heavy downpour which led to the incident as an “exceptional event” due to the intensity of the rain which fell. They also pointed to drain improvement work carried out at this part of the town.

Downpatrick councillor, Gareth Sharvin, said he is “extremely annoyed” at the failure to ensure storm drains in Downpatrick are kept clean to prevent businesses from flooding.

He argues that had the Department for Infrastructure carried out routine maintenance inspections of storm drains in the town centre, they would have realised they could not have coped with the volume of rain which fell nearly two weekends ago.

“The July 28 flooding closed both McCartan’s sports shop and John Young Carpets for a time. I have spoken to the owners of both who are concerned this has happened yet again and that some of their stock has been damaged.”

Confirming he has asked for all town centre storm drains to be cleaned, Cllr Sharvin said the work began within 24 hours of the recent flooding incidents.

He added: “I have also asked that a review of the drainage system throughout the town is considered and improvements made where necessary to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Cllr Sharvin’s view is shared by former South Down MP, Margaret Ritchie, who is backing calls for a bi-annual review of all drainage systems in the town.

“We recently witnessed some of the heaviest rain that we have experienced for quite some time. Road drainage systems seemed incapable of dealing with such a deluge of rain as some of the drains were backed up with sediment,” she said.

“As a consequence, many people, particularly businessmen in Market Street and Church Street, experienced flooding and had to undertake an extensive clean up.”

Miss Ritchie said in order to provide comfort to business owners and residents, there is a clear need for the Department of Infrastructure to undertake a bi-annual review of all drains and drainage systems to ensure they are working and do not lead to further flooding.