BIG THAW BRINGS HUGE PROBLEMS

HUNDREDS of residents across the borough have been mopping up after the big thaw this week.

It wasn't a happy Christmas for many homeowners and Housing Executive tenants as the extreme winter weather caused chaos.

And Monday's thaw, while welcome for motorists and pedestrians, brought yet more problems, with many homes flooded due to burst pipes and people left without heating or running water.

NI Water said it was working around the clock to repair leaks, while the Housing Executive said it had had to deal with thousands of call-outs.

On Tuesday (December 28), the water supply was interupted to thousands of Newtownabbey households while NI Water engineers "alternated supplies", using water from local reservoirs to "recharge the water network" in other areas with low water levels.

Plumbers were inundated with calls from desperate householders facing massive repair bills for water damage, and the council gave the go-ahead for shower facilities at the Valley Leisure Centre to be used by those whose homes were left without running water.

Local plumbing and heating engineer Ian Wallace said the situation had been "manic" over the past few days.

"Burst pipes have been the main problem, particularly for people with pipes outside the house or in garages, running out to washing machines or that sort of thing. There's also been a problem for some people with their heating systems as the oil had started to freeze in them," he explained.

"I've been out to seven or eight calls today already - it's been extremely busy."

Read the full story in this week's Times...

Meanwhile, Newtownabbey Borough Council issued the following advide to local residents on Wednesday, December 29...

• Council leisure centres are providing drinking water. This is mains water and does not require boiling to drink. Staff will fill containers brought to the leisure centre by the public.

• Shower facilities are available free of charge at the Valley Leisure Centre and at Sixmile Leisure Centre. Ballyearl Leisure Centre has no hot water at present.