It damaged private and public property and left a multimillion-euro trail of destruction in its wake. But it did more — it gave rise to the widespread belief, and fear, that the Lee’s waters were not managed as they might have been and the very worst of the flooding might have been averted had the ESB managed its dams at Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid differently. It was believed that had they kept the water levels in the two reservoirs lower during an exceptionally wet month the flooding might not have been so severe.
Homeowners and businesses adjacent to the river dreaded a repeat flood, especially as entirely natural flooding has had, repeatedly, a grim impact in recent years.
The suggestion that the ESB had a hand in the flooding has been a bone of contention but yesterday Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that the energy company was 60% responsible. This may lead to a multimillion-euro bill for the energy company — which we will all pay part of — but it is hard not to think that some poor planning decisions played a significant part in the devastation — which we will all pay for as well. UCC is seeking damages of some €20m but a hearing to assess damages will take place later.
The floods did though give us an indication of the kind of devastation we can all expect unless we move far more energetically and forcefully to confront climate change.