Insurers say no flood defences, no cover as gardaí warn of bogus tradesmen trying to capitalise on stormy weather

Fermoy successfully deployed its €30m flood protection scheme which saw the erection of giant barriers along Kent Bridge

Upwards of 500 houses have been evacuated since Storm Desmond hit, with more than 270 families still unable to return to their homes.

It comes as disagreement brews between the Government and insurers, who say they would not sign up to a scheme to help flood-hit families and businesses until significant flood defences are built.

Gardaí are also warning homeowners about bogus tradesmen calling to their doors seeking to fix any damage caused to their property by the stormy weather.

John Barry, chair of the national co-ordination group, yesterday confirmed at least 270 homes remain evacuated. However, the group is still awaiting figures from a number of local authorities, so this number is expected to rise.

A further 200 families who had to leave their flooded homes have now returned.

Mr Barry said: “Other information has come forward on businesses. We have a figure of 388 businesses who have been affected by flooding.”

The Dáil has cleared time to let the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and other deputies discuss the flooding crisis when it returns next week.

Although Met Éireann has forecast drier weather over the weekend, apart from some heavy showers along coastal areas, it will be many weeks before floods subside.

The Red Cross said it has already paid out around €450,000 to 166 flood-hit businesses that were unable to obtain insurance. This figure is also expected to increase as more applications are processed. Colette Morris of the Red Cross said: “Next week assessors will be contacting people and they will be for applicants who are looking for claims that are in excess of €5,000.”

Mr Barry warned there was still significant flooding on roads in many parts of the country, and motorists are advised to heed all diversions and not to follow their satnavs.

He also warned the public not to take unnecessary trips in boats across flood waters and said there had been some reports of “flood tourism”, with eager photographers putting themselves in danger to take pictures of waterlogged areas.

Gardaí have also warned bogus outfits might seek to capitalise on damage caused by the adverse weather. Sgt Kelvin Courtney of the National Crime Prevention Office said: “It tends to be February, into March, that the bogus tradesmen come out of the woodwork, with the spring cleaning.”

But with the recent damage caused by high winds and driving rain to properties, not just those in flooded areas, the bogus tradesmen may start approaching homes sooner.

“It is an opportunity for people now, if they want to be unscrupulous, to take advantage of people in these vulnerable situations,” said Sgt Courtney.

He urged people who need to get urgent jobs done on their home, such as roof, boundary fencing or door repairs, to take the time to find a reputable tradesman.

“People can be desperate to get a job done quick, but if you act in haste you might regret it,” he said.

“They might tell you it’s a few quid for the job, but then they come back down and say it’s a much bigger job and demand a lot more.”

The flood barriers protecting the town in Mallow, Co Cork. Authorities there estimate defences protected the centre from flooding five times last month. Picture Dan Linehan
The flood barriers protecting the town in Mallow, Co Cork. Authorities there estimate defences protected the centre from flooding five times last month. Picture Dan Linehan

He advised people not to take on anyone they are suspicious of and to fit door chains, door limiters, or door viewers on their front door — and if concerned to ring local gardaí.

Insurance Ireland, the representative body of Ireland’s insurers, yesterday said it would be unwilling to agree to any special scheme for flood-prone areas until significant flood defences are put in place by Government.

The Taoiseach is due to meet with insurers on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

However, Michael Horan of Insurance Ireland blamed flooding on inadequate investment by the Government and said it would not be logical to insure areas which are going to flood again.

“The flood problem has been caused by inadequate investment in flood defences over the years combined with development on flood plains,” he said.



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