NI floods: Family living in mobile home after Newry floods

Kevin MacAuley
Kevin McCauley said it was terrifying to see that water flooding into his home

A man living in a mobile home more than a week after his house was flooded has said he doesn't know what to do or where to go.

Kevin McCauley said he awoke to water flooding into his home on the Omeath Road alongside Newry Canal.

While support for businesses has been forthcoming, a number of homes were also severely damaged.

Emergency rates relief for businesses will be automatically paid to those badly affected by the floods.

In the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area it is estimated 67 homes were flooded.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said to date 107 residential properties have been issued with a payment of £1,000 from the Scheme for Emergency Financial Assistance (SEFA) payment scheme.

The Department for Communities activated SEFA for the period from 17 October 2023 to 16 November 2023 whereby householders who suffered severe inconvenience could claim the payment from their local council.

"The bills keep coming in"

Mr McCauley told BBC News NI that when last week's flooding occurred his home was deluged and a week later he is still trying to save what he can.

He doesn't know what will be done to prevent future flooding and said the sight of water coming into his home was terrifying.

"The bills are just coming and coming and coming to a house we cant live in. Unless someone fixes the bigger problem I'm in dire straits."

Kevin MacAuley's home during the floods
Kevin McCauley's family have been living in a mobile home since the floods damaged their home.

Mr McCauley recounted the minute his home started to flood,

"There's four or five inches of floodwater inside and 2.5ft outside - if this keeps coming in we are in trouble as we are in a bungalow.

"The water was nearly up to my waist - it's freezing."

Mr McCauley said he managed to get his children to safety but the risks played on his mind,

"I bring my middle daughter out to the van, I run back for my five year old, I think this is risky - I'm afraid of dropping him because it's so dark I cant see one thing."

The McCauley family have moved out of their home, but they do not know what to do next.

"I'm on my third skip at this stage. We are still trying to save some things, " he added.

"We are living in a mobile home. Where do we go? What do we do?"

Rates relief for businesses

Meanwhile, businesses affected by the floods will receive rates relief.

Some businesses will not have to apply for the funding as those eligible will be identified by the council.

Measures will include 100% relief for non-domestic rates on flooded properties and support to help with temporary relocation.

Ratepayers that have paid their rates in full this year will receive a refund.

Public sector properties are excluded.

Businesses must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

  • The relevant district council has confirmed that the property was flooded

  • The property was valued for non-domestic rates on the rating system on the date of the flooding incident

  • The business was trading from the flooded property and liable for non-domestic rates on the date of the flooding incident

  • Or the property was listed as vacant with Land Property Services (LPS) and the owner was liable for vacant rates on the date of the flooding incident

If a business has relocated temporarily, it will be eligible for 100% rate relief up to 31 March 2024.

This relief is only available when the business relocates to a property that was recorded as vacant on the rating system on the date of the flooding incident.

The UK government pledged £15m to help flood-hit firms in Northern Ireland to cover the clean-up and resume trading.

But some have criticised the amount on offer, with one trade body saying that about £37m is needed for Newry alone.

Stormont's Department of Finance has said that more support will be available although it is not clear how much will be on offer or when it will be available.