Flooding hits Galway as OPW stays silent, says Rabbitte

Cllr Anne Rabbitte has expressed her “extreme frustration” with Minister Simon Harris and the Office of Public Works for its continued failure to supply official maps to allow Galway County Council to draw up a credible flood plan.

The Portuma-based county councillor, who is also a Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway East, warned that the flood threat will increase over the coming months, and residents and businesses have no plan to protect them.

“Towns across the county were put under extreme pressure as high winds and heavy rain battered the country,” Cllr Rabbitte said. “Many towns and villages fell foul of the flooding, and clean-up operations are continuing. Many of these floods could have been prevented if there was a credible flood plan in place. However, the Office of Public Works is continuing to block such a plan as a result of its refusal to supply official maps to allow a strategy to be drawn up.

“Galway County Council has been attempting to develop a new flood plan since 2009, when Galway was hit by major storms,” she continued. “However, the Office of Public Works has been consistently stalling the process. It has refused to provide official approved maps, forcing the council to work off draft drawings. There are homes in Galway that are at risk of flooding that are not included in the plan because the maps are out of date. Similarly there are some homes which are deemed at risk of flooding, which were unaffected by the severe floods in 2009. This will have a major impact on the owners of these homes with regard to insurance costs and resale opportunities.

“Over the past six years, the OPW has failed to engage meaningfully with councillors here in Galway.  The maps that they have produced are only drafts and cannot be used in the development of a credible flood plan. We need official, approved, maps to be able to do our job properly but are being hindered by the Department and the Minister.

“I am calling on Minister Harris and his officials to immediately review this situation, release the approved maps along with workable solutions for the people of Craughwell, Ballinasloe, Portumna, and all who live along the Shannon, Suck, and Dunkellin rivers. This will allow Galway County Council to complete this flood plan before it is too late.”

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