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More rain feared as NI suffers a soaking.

EMERGENCY services battling to contain flooding across Northern Ireland are braced for more downpours.

With one of the main arterial routes swamped with 20 million gallons of water on Saturday, there are fears of major traffic disruption today amid predictions of more rain.

Official financial support to homeowners is to be granted after rescuers used a lifeboat to help people to safety from water lapping at residents' waists.

Rivers burst their banks, bridges were washed away and dozens of roads closed across the province.

Some places saw up to three-quarters of the normal August rainfall in a day.

A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water said: "We are liaising with theMet Office in relation to possible heavy rainfall in coming days and we are taking all reasonable precautions to protect continuity of our service."

A spokeswoman for Meteo Group, thew eather division of the PA Group, confirmed another area of rain was moving into the south west of the province.

"There are bands of rain moving across most of the UK and Northern Ireland, possibly bringing heavy downpours at times but unfortunately there's no distinctly dry days either but hopefully there will be no persistently heavy rainfall," she added.

At the height of the weekend flooding the RNLI lifeboat went door to door rescuing people from their homes in Bryansford, Co Down, as waters rose.

Lifeboat spokesman Ian Douthwaite said: "In some parts the water had reached waist level and we wanted to ensure that nobody was stranded in their homes."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service had to help people from their homes in Belfast and counties Down, Armagh and Antrim, with more than 850 emergency calls received.

A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water, the water and sewerage provider, said there had been enormous pressure on infrastructure, and they had fielded more than 3,000 calls.

"NI Water's major incident response team has been convened and more than 50 teams have been dispatched throughout Northern Ireland to respond to problems."

The newly constructed Broadway underpass in Belfast was swamped by water, and isn't expected to reopen until this evening. It is one of the busiest roads in Northern Ireland, bypassing the city centre for traffic heading south and west.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 18, 2008
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