Skibb sets up national forum to help flood-risk communities

A TOWN ravaged by last year’s winter floods is setting up a national body to help and lobby for flood-risk communities.

The Skibbereen Floods Committee in west Cork said it hopes the new National Flood Forum, which will be launched next month, will give a “national voice” to other communities in a similar situation, and will help them cut through red-tape and state bureaucracy to get the right information.

They have now invited people from around the country to contact them.

“The purpose of this forum is to highlight the urgency of problems, and to provide advice to communities that have been flooded, or that are at risk of being flooded,” a spokesperson said.

“The forum is to encourage the establishment of a national voice for community groups, which will lead to mutual support for action to mitigate future risk of flooding, by instigating multi-agency collaboration between those that flood and the agencies that manage flood risk.”

Skibbereen has experienced severe flooding at least 20 times in the past 50 years with one home flooded 16 times in that period.

Committee member Enda O’Donovan said while flood waters stay in homes and businesses for up to 24 hours, the clean-up, repair, and worry of flooding events lasts much longer.

He said the Skibbereen Floods Committee does its best to keep people informed about flooding and flood alleviation measures.

But he said members found the information flow between the various relevant state bodies — local/ county councils, OPW, Fisheries and others — a difficult path to navigate.

These difficulties have now prompted the planned holding of a National Forum of Community Flood Committees at the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen, on Saturday, November 20.

The day-long event will feature several addresses from experts in areas including flood management, hydrology, mental health, and insurance. The key-note speech will given by Minister Martin Mansergh, who has responsibility for the OPW.

“This National Forum will be a important event for any community that has suffered the trauma of a flooding event nationally,” Senator Denis O’Donovan said.

The forum, under the chairmanship of Dr Sean McCarthy of Hyperion — a company which specialises in training courses for research managers — will also call for the setting up of a national executive of community flood committees to represent flood-risk towns and villages at a national level.

It is hoped the national executive would have representatives from all areas of Ireland that have been seriously affected by flooding issues.

* Information on the event next month is available on www.skibbereenflooding.com

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