Council praised for taking steps to protect people and property

Waves batter the coastal path at Whiteabbey on Sunday afternoon. INNT 02-500CON
Waves batter the coastal path at Whiteabbey on Sunday afternoon. INNT 02-500CON

Council staff have been praised for their efforts to ensure public safety during the recent tidal surge and strong winds which battered the borough’s coastline.

During Monday night’s Environment Committee meeting, UUP councillor Ken Robinson thanked officers and staff for their response to the extreme weather conditions and the steps taken to mitigate the risk to people and property.

With the Met Office warning of high tides and strong winds for the east coast of Northern Ireland over the weekend, council staff moved in on Friday (January 3) to close off parts of the coastal path between Loughshore Park, Jordanstown and Hazelbank due to the potential risk to pedestrians and cyclists.

Warning signs were erected along the route urging people to stay away from the shoreline, and sandbags were used to protect homes and businesses in parts of Whiteabbey deemed to be at risk of possible flooding.

The weather was at its worst on Sunday afternoon (January 5), when the high tide and gusts of up to 60mph saw huge waves batter the coastline.

Driving conditions were treacherous on parts of the A2 Shore Road at Whiteabbey as waves crashed over the sea wall, and there was flooding along many parts of the coastal pathway between Jordanstown and Hazelbank.

And with a similar weather warning in place for Monday, the local authority took the decision to close the car parks at Loughshore Park, Whiteabbey War Memorial and Gideon’s Green.

Speaking to the Times after the committee meeting, Mr Robinson said that while Monday’s weather hadn’t been as bad as expected, it was right that the council had taken precautions to protect people and properties.

“In the past when we have experienced flooding we have been playing catch-up in trying to deal with the problem and help people.

“But this time we were well organised and we were getting regular updates from the Met Office which was very useful. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as had been feared, but it was right that the council took all the necessary precautions.

“We (the council) were very well organised, and a lot of effort and planning was put in by all the agencies involved in responding to this situation. But it was particularly pleasing that council officers and staff were out on the ground and seen to be taking the lead in our own area.”

Meanwhile, a council spokesperson has confirmed that anyone whose property has been affected by flooding may be eligible for financial assistance.

“The Department of the Environment has announced an extension to its scheme of emergency financial assistance to district councils in the event of flooding following heavy rainfall or tidal surge.

“Anyone in the Newtownabbey area whose property is affected by flooding and wants to be considered for this financial assistance is asked to contact the council on 028 9034 0160. Lines will be open 9am - 5pm,” she said.