Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Memories of Water Torture Flood Back; Irish Crisis Mirrors One Faced in North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Memories of Water Torture Flood Back; Irish Crisis Mirrors One Faced in North

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah

NEWS of the water crisis in Northern Ireland has brought back unpleasant memories for people in two Northumberland towns.

As the New Year broke in 1996, the thawing of frozen pipes led to 50,000 people in Ashington and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea being without water for up to four days.

Scenes captured by The Journal at the time are currently being echoed across the Irish Sea as thousands in Northern Ireland face a further 24 hours without water. Ian Lavery, the current MP for Wansbeck, was a councillor for Wansbeck District Council at the time of the water crisis in 1996.

He said: "People do not realise how important water is to their lives, flushing the toilet, washing your face, having a cup of tea, and when that is taken away without any notice you feel desperate.

"When it is prolonged you feel like it is the end of the world.

"I have seen the scenes in Belfast of the people standing in the streets with bottles, anything that will carry water, desperate for water in anything.

"My heart goes out to all of those people who are no further forward.

"It is bringing back memories. I still live in the same house and I remember the bowsers just appearing at the end of the streets. It was very difficult and frustrating.

"It was a desperate situation at that point in time. It is very difficult for people of all walks of life."

It was estimated at the time at that more than 50 million gallons of water a day were being lost through cracked pipes in Northumberland due to the unprecedented temperature changes.

Water bowsers were deployed to the streets and tankers made deliveries to hospitals as the water shortage became a full-scale crisis.

The number of people cut off by the region's water crisis was thought to have topped one million at its worst point.

Mr Lavery added: "People were not angry at the time, there was a lot of understanding because of the extreme weather. People thought this sort of thing can be expected due to the weather. …

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