Newry is continuing to count the cost of utter devastation as a result of unprecedented floods – and bracing itself for more to come.
The city bore the brunt of floods which have brought parts of Northern Ireland – mainly around Counties Down and Armagh – to a standstill.
Many businesses have had their stock completely destroyed after the canal burst its banks, and some are already questioning whether or not they will ever be in a position to re-open.
Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade held an emergency meeting with Newry Council chief executive, Marie Ward, as the severity of the situation became apparent.
Meanwhile, further weather warnings for rain – in place from 9pm tonight (Tuesday) – look set to exacerbate an already critical situation. And the threat of Storm Ciaran – due to arrive from Thursday – could make matters much worse.
Throughout the day and amid it all there have been real displays of community spirit as people tried to help one another deal with the crisis at hand.
People were being advised that if their property was at immediate risk of flooding and they required sandbags to contact the 24-hour flooding incident line on 0300 2000 100.
For many businesses, however, the sandbags did little to help and came a little too late to stop the destruction.
Newry Council had been working to raise the level of the wall adjacent to Newry Town Hall in order to try to protect premises on Hill Street.
Newry Chamber, which represents the interests of hundreds of members, was advising business owners to immediately contact their insurance company to check if they were covered for flood damage under their policy.
But sadly the Chamber confirmed: “We have already heard from a number of businesses who are not protected against flood damage under their current policy with their insurance company.
“We have raised the urgent need for compensation for businesses affected given the scale of the devastating damage caused by the flooding overnight.
“Newry Chamber will continue to work tirelessly with other key stakeholders and collectively as a business community to recover from this and bounce back, and if you require any assistance, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Chamber will issue a further update when it is available and please try and stay safe out there.”
The risk periods had been identified as high tide at 1pm on Tuesday – and again at 1am tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.
The PSNI, meanwhile, is continuing to advise people to stay away from Newry city centre.
The situation has also been having an impact on public services.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has confirmed tonight that Newry Town Hall has been closed.
Newry Courthouse, meanwhile, will “temporarily redirect its business” from tomorrow (Wednesday), as a result of the flooding. Scheduled Magistrates’ Courts which sit in Newry, including Armagh, will now be held at Craigavon Courthouse.
Said a Department of Justice spokesperson: “This is a temporary measure to allow for remedial works to take place and to make sure the staff and public are kept safe. Court business will return to Newry Courthouse as soon as possible.”
Earlier on Tuesday the Southern Health Trust was experiencing difficulties due to the weather across the region and was appealing for families to help where possible.
A spokesperson said: “Our community teams are facing challenges reaching service users due to extreme weather conditions in some areas, particularly in the Newry and Mourne locality, due to extensive flooding and poor road conditions.
“We thank staff for going above and beyond to continue to provide care to members of our community in all weather conditions. Please be patient as we get to those most vulnerable first.
“If you can provide help to your family member, please let your domiciliary care provider know.”
With hundreds of images showing the shocking aftermath of floods in Newry, Sinn Féin MLA Liz Kimmins has praised the efforts of the local community and statutory agencies working together to pick up the pieces.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said: “Overnight flooding has severely impacted many businesses and residents in Newry and other areas of the north.
“I would like to praise the massive response of the local community, statutory agencies and also Newry BID who have worked to alleviate flooding and prevent further damage.
“However, many homes and businesses have suffered damage as a result of the flooding, which has also led to power cuts in some areas.
“I would encourage those affected by flooding to contact their local council who can support residents with a payment of up to £1,000. We will also be here to support residents and business owners in the time ahead to access financial support in the aftermath of this.
“Sinn Féin will remain on the ground tonight to support and assist people and agencies to deal with what looks set to be another heavy night of rainfall.”