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New study shows way ahead for Belfast flooding victims

11 May 2010

Cockermouth floods and destabilised shed© InfoAfter years of repeated flooding, hundreds of Belfast residents live in fear of heavy rain – but a new Red Cross report points the way ahead for coping better with future flood emergencies.

The British Red Cross today (11 May) publishes a new research study – Living in fear of the rain – that explores the long-lasting psychological and emotional effects of flooding in Belfast.

The study’s findings outline the ongoing emotional turmoil and financial hardship faced by householders living in high-risk areas. Many residents have been repeatedly flooded in recent years, often with devastating personal consequences.

Plan for recovery

Cockermouth - into the floods© InfoCrucially, it also suggests ways in which statutory agencies, the voluntary sector and communities themselves could improve the response to future flooding. The Red Cross’ main recommendations include: identifying the most vulnerable householders in advance, improving co-ordination between statutory agencies and providing portable ‘resilience kits’ for every household.

Joanne McKenna, emergency response manager, said: “Our research clearly shows that those affected by flooding need more help than they presently receive, both in recovering from recent events and planning for future flooding. They are suffering from stress, anxiety and financial hardship that goes on long after the floodwaters have subsided.”

She added: “Many people are frightened to leave their properties for any period of time, some have been financially ruined and in other cases families have been separated because their homes still aren’t safe or healthy for their children to live in.”

Quick and effective help

One major problem following a flooding incident is that people aren’t always sure who to turn to for help. Residents need to determine the type of floodwater in order to contact the relevant agency, which can be confusing and stressful at a very difficult time. The new study calls for a more joined-up approach from relevant agencies to ensure flood victims can quickly get the right kind of help.

Davy Neill of Belfast Resilience Forum said: “The Red Cross has provided an excellent piece of research on the impact of flooding from a victim’s perspective. I sincerely hope it will focus the minds of everyone in the emergency response community to ensure plans are written with those who are impacted in mind.”

The publication is the result of a year-long research project carried out by the British Red Cross in response to a request by Belfast Resilience Forum.

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