Govt opens scheme to help Cork flood victims

People whose homes and businesses were affected by last month's flash floods in Cork have been told they will be able to apply to a humanitarian fund for help.

Govt opens scheme to help Cork flood victims

People whose homes and businesses were affected by last month's flash floods in Cork have been told they will be able to apply to a humanitarian fund for help.

Up to €10m was made available after last year's floods in Dublin and Monaghan, but only €1m was drawn down.

Dozens of homes and businesses in the city and county of Cork were flooded at the end of June with the Clonakility, Glanmire, Douglas and Blackpool areas worst-affected.

Many residents of Blackpool have still to move back in.

Today's announcement has been welcomed by them, but there are concerns about red tape.

The Government today agreed to open the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, set up after previous flooding in Dublin and Galway, to householders in Cork.

The Social Protection Minister Joan Burton says the fund provides hardship alleviation, rather than full compensation.

St Vincent De Paul regional vice-president Brendan Dempsey said: "The €9m hardship fund for Cork is welcome — but it means nothing if the rules make it virtually impossible to access it."

It will be means tested and applies only to uninsured homeowners and not businesses. People are advised to contact their community welfare officers (CWOs) to avail of it.

However it is feared the sums available through the fund may not even be close to covering the damage because of its stringent qualifying criteria.

There was fury in Glanmire last night as flood victims and residents of Meadowbrook hit out at insurance companies for “dragging their heels” and refusing to pay out claims at a meeting at Riverstown community centre.

Attended by 100 residents, Jim Healy, residents’ association chairperson said: “We want answers and action.”

In reply to a Dáil question this month, Minister Burton said the average payment already made from the humanitarian fund was just €790. Up to the end of May 2012, a total of 960 payments had been made at a cost of €760,000.

Mr Dempsey said: “I am worried that this funding will just amount to more rhetoric. St Vincent De Paul is still paying for repairs to buildings from the floods of 2009. The rules and regulations that the CWOs have to adhere to are too much.

“We have to have an agency like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the US which deals with national emergencies specifically. It has a remit to deal with things like floods or earthquakes immediately without the red tape.” Why do charities like ourselves have to deal with the fallout every time?

“This €9m hardship fund cannot be processed like the social welfare system which takes way too long.”

A leading insurance assessor estimated the total cost of the damage caused by the flooding in Cork to be in the order of €80m to €100m.

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