By Paul Ainsworth

A wheelchair bound woman who was forced to call for emergency assistance during last Wednesday’s torrential downpours in South Belfast has described her terror as floodwaters rose in her ground floor flat.

Marie Therese Rodgers-Maloney was forced to call in the Fire and Rescue Service after her Lisburn Road apartment began filling fast with water.

The 62-year-old South Belfast woman described the “scary” scenes as water burst from her toilet and shower drain, while rising floodwater, contaminated with sewage, poured through the front and back doors of her Ferndale Court flat.

Ms Rodgers-Maloney is currently living in a hotel while insurance investigators estimate the extent of the damage to her home.

Speaking this week from the Ivanhoe Hotel where she is currently staying, Marie Therese said the speed of the waters was overwhelming and described how as her home submerged, she was forced to dial 999.

“I can only describe it as a deluge, before I knew what was happening, water was coming in through every hole in the flat,” she said.

“It was shooting out from the toilet and shower which made the waters rise even faster, it was scary – like something from a film – and I didn’t know who to contact.

“I was reluctant to ring for the Fire Brigade, as it’s for emergencies only, but as time passed, there was no option.

“I’m a wheelchair user, and was genuinely frightened that I would become trapped in my home and wouldn’t be able to escape, so I had no choice but to make the call.”

Firefighters who arrived at the scene removed Marie Therese from the flat by hoisting her in her wheelchair, and wading through the floodwaters to take her to safety. After staying with nearby friends for a night, she is now staying in the Carryduff hotel while she awaits alternative accommodation and repairs to be made to her apartment.

“It’s likely to be a few months before I can go home, and I’m currently a bag lady” she added, with good humour.

“I’ve been told that everything which touched the ground in the flat has to go, due to the sewage in the water. Thankfully I haven’t lost anything personal or of sentimental value, but all my furniture is destroyed.

“However if it wasn’t for the speedy response of the Fire Service I don’t know what would have happened to me in my own home.”

 

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