The Office of Public Works is finalising plans to protect more than 300 communities in the country and hopes to publish a priority list of works for them next year.
The OPW has already spent €37m on a major study which it is hoped will ultimately translate in defences that will save communities who have had to cope with the trauma of flooding in the past and those which might be at risk in the future.
OPW chartered engineer Ezra Mac Manamon said some areas may need structural defences like flood barriers and earthworks, while other problems might be rectified by deepening rivers or creating water storage areas upstream.
He made his comments as public consultation processes opened in the mid-Cork villages of Ballingeary and Inchigeelagh yesterday. Both villages suffered extensive flooding in November 2009.
Aodan Ó Tuama, former postmaster in Ballingeary, said his post office had been flooded three times since 1986 and some houses were so badly damaged in the village that they had to be completely rebuilt.
“Nobody in Ballingeary can get flood insurance any more, no matter if you’re living up a big hill,” he said.
Donal O’Callaghan, who runs a joinery business in the village, said the 2009 flood cost him €100,000 and a number of lost contracts.
“We had products ready to go out at the time and it caused us a lot of difficulty. I think it’s great that these flood-prevention works will now be carried out,” he said.
Cllr Aindrias Moynihan (FF), who attended the meeting in the GAA hall, said it as vital TDs put more pressure on the insurance industry, who he described “as completely unreasonable”.
Mr Mac Manamon said
the OPW would come back to both villages in September to tell locals about their preferred options for flood defences.
A further round of public consultation will occur before the OPW submits its plans and seeks government finance to undertake the job.
“Local knowledge is vital. We use scientific methods, but it’s not an exact science because you need to know historic information from local families about previous flooding as well,” he said.
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