Northern Ireland's worst flooding in 30 years brought another crisis to the strife-torn city of Belfast on Sunday (16 August).
Northern Ireland's worst flooding in 30 years brought another crisis to the strife-torn city of Belfast on Sunday (16 August). British troops, stationed in the province to keep peace between warring Catholic and Protestant factions, laid down their weapons to help families trapped by the water.
Nightlong torrential rain and gales sent flood waters swirling into homes and streets which have been the battle grounds for Catholics and Protestants. Among the hard-hit areas were the trouble spots of the Protestant Shankill and Catholic Falls Roads.
Some places were under four feet (1.2 metres) of water and a number of streets were completely evacuated. Troops backing up police and emergency services, use rubber boats and rafts to rescue some stranded families and to bring food to others. Field kitchens were established to feed those whose homes were wrecked.
In many cases, the British troops were with cups of tea by grateful householders in the same areas where recently they were the objects of fire-bombings and rock-throwing by rioters of both factions.
A police spokesman said there was flooding in every main street in the city during the night. Scores of cars were abandoned in the muddy waters. Communications were disrupted as telephones and power lines were put out of action.
Northern Ireland Home Affairs Minister Robert Porter toured some of the damaged areas of Belfast during the day -- areas where a year ago British troops faced fire bombs and rioters. He later said he was impressed how the citizens of Belfast were working together regardless of religious background to face the floods. Mr Porter was later followed by other members of Ulster's cabinet.
Emergency services stayed on duty later on Sunday as further threats of high tides faced the city. The Northern Ireland cabinet are to meet on Monday (17 August) to discuss relief for the large areas of the province left under water--- and for Belfast, which was the worst-hit.