Cork flood victim: Ruling let ESB off hook

A man whose home was destroyed in the 2009 Cork flood feels let down by the Court of Appeal ruling which, he said, has effectively let the ESB “off the hook”.

Long-time Mardyke resident Eric Sorensen said he and other flood-hit residents, who were considering their legal options pending the outcome of UCC’s case against the ESB, have probably run out of options in the wake of Tuesday’s ruling.

“I was very disappointed by the Court of Appeals’ ruling that the ESB did not cause the flooding,” he said.

“I have been living here all my life and I know what a natural flood looks like. What happened that night in 2009 wasn’t a natural flood.

“What came down the river that night was a bank of water caused by the letting out of too much water at the one time.

“I don’t see any comeback now for people like me.”

Mr Sorensen broke several ribs as he had been forced to wade in darkness from his home, engulfed by almost five feet of flood water that night in November 2009.

While his own insurance covered the cost of the extensive repairs, he can’t secure flood insurance now, and the incident has slashed around 30% off the value of his home.

“That’s life, I suppose, and you have to get on with it. But I personally am very disappointed in the ruling,” he said.

The three-judge Court of Appeal overturned a 2015 High Court finding and ruled that the ESB has no liability for any of the flood damage caused to several buildings on UCC’s campus.

The ruling overturned a High Court finding from 2015 which held the ESB was 60% liable in respect of flooding and warnings.

Some 40 residents whose homes were damaged during the flood had hoped the 2015 ruling would strengthen their case against the ESB in the event of a class-action.

While it is understood their legal advisers are maintaining a ‘watching brief’ in the event of a possible appeal by UCC or Aviva to the Supreme Court, Mr Sorensen said residents just don’t have the resources to mount a legal challenge in the highest court in the land.

“We just can’t afford to take them on. It’s the end of the road I’d say,” he said.

UCC and Aviva said they will take a few days to consider the ruling with their legal advisers before deciding on whether to mount an appeal or not.


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