Flood victim urges President to seek independent probe

A WIDOWER who lost everything in the devastating flood which hit Cork last month wants the President to press for an independent inquiry into the disaster.

Eric Sorensen, 60, was saved by his dog, J, when a mini tsunami swept through his house on the Mardyke in the early hours of November 20 last.

His home was swamped by up to five feet of water after the release of millions of tonnes of flood waters from the Inniscarra dam, eight miles above Cork city.

His house has been completed gutted. He does not expect to be able to return home until next July.

He welcomed President Mary McAleese’s planned visit to the city and county today to meet victims of the flood, but he said it must be more than a PR stunt.

“She’s a nice lady and I respect her and this is good PR for her, but it won’t change anything. It won’t make a blind bit of difference,” he said.

“I have lived in this area for decades. I understand that flooding occurs, but what happened in Cork that night was not a natural flood. I firmly believe someone somewhere made a mistake.”

He urged the President to lend her support to calls for an independent inquiry into how the situation was handled in an effort to “get honest answers and reports” from all involved.

As well as meeting householders, business people and voluntary agencies affected by the flood, the President is also due to meet those who coordinated the response to the civic emergency, including city officials, members of the Defence Forces and the HSE.

President McAleese, who was in regular telephone contact with city officials during the civic emergency, wants to express her personal appreciation to all those who were involved in dealing with the water crisis, and also to demonstrate her support for those affected by the flooding.

She will meet some at City Hall this morning before visiting representatives and residents of Share and people living in the Middle Parish area who were worst affected by the worst flood in living memory.

President McAleese is also expected to meet with management and staff of the Kingsley Hotel – a hotel in which she regularly stays.

She will then travel to County Hall before heading to Bandon around 3pm – one of the country’s worst affected towns – to meet householders and business people there.

Cork city manager Joe Gavin welcomed the visit.

“As the city and the agencies responded to the emergency that was placed upon it, the phone call from the President was of tremendous support,” Mr Gavin said.

“Emergency services had been working around the clock and the message of support from the President helped to galvanise the efforts of the hundreds of people involved, and was greatly appreciated.

“It is great that she is now taking the time to visit us so close to Christmas,” he added.

Meanwhile, 36 of the 40 people who had been staying at the Doughcloyne Hotel for the last four weeksreturned home over the weekend.

It included several members of the Travelling community who lost everything when their halting site on the Carrigrohane Road flooded.

The four remaining people moved in to the Victoria Hotel over the weekend, including Ann O’Riordan, who hasn’t slept in her own bed in her Middle Parish home since she was woken in the early hours of November 20 last as flood waters poured in.

Her tight-knit inner city neighbourhood was one of the worst affected residential areas.

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