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People rescued from flooded homes in N. Ireland

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By MEERA SELVA

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- Authorities rescued people trapped on the roofs of their cars and stranded in their homes after parts of Northern Ireland received more rainfall in one day than they usually experience in three weeks, officials said Monday.

Group Commander Jim Guy said the flash floods were the worst that Northern Ireland's Fire and Rescue service had ever experienced. The service received more than 1,000 emergency calls from people affected by the rains, he said.

Heavy rains drenched most of Northern Ireland over the weekend. Dozens of people had to be rescued from their homes by lifeboats as water levels rose.

Traffic in Belfast stopped moving after a major new road that was meant to link several highways flooded with more than 26 million gallons of water. Roads to the city's airport also were blocked.

The Ulster Grand Prix, one of Britain's biggest motorcycle races, was canceled on Saturday because of the bad weather and several soccer matches were abandoned.

Lawmaker Fred Cobain, chairman of the Stormont Assembly's Regional Development Committee, said Monday the government needs to be better prepared for bad weather.

"This is not just a matter of inconvenience. It also has economic consequences," he said. "If, as seems to be the case, outbursts of torrential rain are to become a characteristic of Northern Ireland's climate, government departments and agencies should have plans in place to minimize both the chances of flooding and the disruption which follows floods."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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