Monday 28 July 2014

Couple claiming home was flooded by 'mini tsunami' is suing two councils, High Court hears

Published 21/01/2014|18:11

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L-R: Noel and Rosemary Rice, of Mill Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth, leaving court yesterday(Tues) after the opening day of a High Court action for damages against Dundalk Town Council and Louth County Council.Pic: Collins
Noel and Rosemary Rice, of Mill Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth, leaving court today after the opening day of a High Court action for damages against Dundalk Town Council and Louth County Council. Photo: Collins

A COUPLE who claim their home was flooded after being stuck by "a mini tsunami" have sued two local authorities.

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Noel and Rosemary Rice's home at Mill Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, was flooded after they said millions of gallons of water, without warning, struck their property on December 3, 2005.

They say that tens of thousands of euro worth of damage was caused to both the interior and exterior of their home.

They claim the flooding was caused after local authority workers released water that had accumulated due to a blockage at the Ault Bridge, Castleblayney Road, Dundalk,  which is located upstream from the Rice's home.

The release of water caused the river to break its banks and flood their property.  The blockage was caused by debris including rubbish that had ended up in the river.

In their High Court action against Louth Co Council and Dundalk Town Council, they say the defendants were negligent and responsible for the damage.

They claim this was for a number of reasons, including that they allowed the water to escape and failed to carry out a a risk assessment. It is also claimed they allowed the water to escape in a location they ought to have known was dangerous, unsafe and carried with it a risk of flood.

The claims are denied. Both local authorities say the damage was caused by an act of God and no liability in law attaches to them.

Turlough O'Donnell SC, for the councils, said the flood waters at the Ault Bridge rose to such a level in early December 2005 that it represented a danger to the public due to the blockage to a storm channel caused by the unauthorised dumping of waste and litter.

They carried out remedial action at the bridge and say they acted with all due care and expedition in what was an emergency situation.

Opening the case, Conor Halpin SC for the  Rices, said the water blockage should have been properly managed by the defendants. Workers had released the water acting on instructions issued over the telephone by an engineer.

Counsel said said the engineer should have been on site to assess the situation at the bridge.  Had an engineer been present, simple calculations would have revealed that unblocking the and releasing the waters was not the correct thing to do, counsel said.

After the water was released, a neighbour of the Rices  had described a "loud roar" shortly  before a " mini tsunami" struck, counsel said.

That neighbour had only just managed to escape before the water struck her home, counsel said, adding that the level of water at the properties had been described as high as 10feet.

Mr Rice told the court that it took between nine and 10 months for the damage to his home to be repaired.

He said the downstairs and interior of his home, which and his wife had take great pride in, were damaged.

The case continues before Ms Justice Marie Baker, .

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