Flood warnings in Albufeira were “ignored”, claims national tabloid

As the hundreds involved in Albufeira’s exhausting mop-up operation pray for dry weather, national tabloid Correio da Manhã has published a damning report which shows the town council turned a blind eye to a report outlining the folly of sanctioning building in a flood risk area as many as six years.

The report – compiled by the Algarve’s ARH (regional hydrographic administration) – was presented to council chiefs in 2009, a year after the town’s ‘baixa district’ suffered flood damage in a winter storm.

“The technical people of ARH warned of the aggravated risk of flooding” presented by a council plan to divert a stream through a system of pipes, writes CM.

“But the mayor of the time, Desidério Silva, decided to go ahead” nonetheless.

It was a question, explains CM, of “making the area more beautiful”.

Quizzed by the paper this week, current mayor Carlos Sousa e Silva claimed to know nothing of ARH’s reservations but stressed all these background issues are now being investigated in the detailed post-mortem of the local disaster.

Meantime, hundreds of people have answered calls for volunteer help for the town, and the Albufeira SOS Facebook page continues to provide regular updates.

As a full report on damages is being put together, an official bank account for donations is now open.

Albufeira SOS warns anyone interested in giving money to check they have the right account, as a bogus one has also sprung up on Facebook.

The official account – backed by the local council and the Red Cross – is:
NIB: 0045 7012 40276144016 40
IBAN: PT50-0045 7012 4027 6144 0164 0

But as to the ARH report, CM explains that technicians had suggested the construction of “retention basins” along the path of the stream/waterway, so that in heavy rains there were no risks to town infrastructures.

At one point, CM adds that ARH actually embargoed the council’s works for lack of proper licensing, and only gave the go-ahead to the project on the basis that the council would take their report on board, and construct the retention basins.

[email protected]