Naomi Long said: “This evening I visited a number of sites across East Belfast which have been affected by the flooding. Whilst we had been working to help and advise local people throughout the afternoon, I was shocked at the extent of the damage which had been caused but was struck by the dedication of the Fire and Rescue Service and other emergency staff who responded fantastically to the situation.
“I would also pay tribute to the Council and Housing Executive who offered help at the emergency centre in Avoniel Leisure Centre, the staff in Cregagh Community Centre, and to the Salvation Army volunteers at Cregagh Road who helped to provide hot food and water for local people who are without electricity this evening.
“Having spoken with the Social Development Minister, Ms Margaret Ritchie about the plight of people in Cregagh earlier this evening, I was particularly pleased that she came to the Estate to see extent of the damage to Housing Executive property and took time to meet with the residents.
“Whilst it was good to see the positive response to the initial crisis, it is clear that extensive damage has been caused to a significant number of properties and that a lot of work will be required to make the affected homes habitable and safe in the coming days and weeks.
“It is also clear that the Department of Regional Development must review the situation and determine whether any deficiencies in the drainage system may have exacerbated the flooding. As a Civil Engineer myself, I recognise that it may not have been possible for any drainage system to have coped with the severe weather conditions experienced today but only a review of the specific circumstances surrounding each incidence will be able to ascertain this and help to reassure the public that everything is being done to prevent future flooding. Such a review is particularly important as, in many cases, there have been previous flooding episodes in the same locality.”