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Topical Issue Debate
16 December 2015

The need for the Minister to ensure all supports and proposed supports are made available as quickly as possible to people and businesses affected by flooding in areas such as Athlone.
DEPUTY GABRIELLE MCFADDEN.
Reply

The Government approved the allocation of €5m to be distributed as emergency humanitarian support to small businesses, which through no fault of their own have been unable to secure flood insurance and have been flooded recently.

The scheme, which is being administered by the Irish Red Cross Society, will provide a once-off ex-gratia contribution to the costs of damage incurred by those small businesses which were unable to secure flood insurance and were flooded arising from the impact of Storm Desmond within the period 4th December 2015 to 17th December 2015.

The scheme is aimed at providing a contribution to the costs of returning business premises to their pre-flood condition including the replacement of flooring, fixtures and fittings and damaged stock. It only applies to rateable premises that have been flooded and it is intended as an emergency humanitarian assistance contribution rather than compensation for loss or a replacement for the cover provided by insurance.

The emergency nature of the response to the impact on businesses affected by the flooding required a speedy process in order to meet the needs of affected businesses. In this regard a two step approach is being taken, involving an initial application which, if successful will lead to a quick payment which will be capped at €5,000 per property. Application under the €5,000 threshold will be paid following a rapid verification process.

It is anticipated that some businesses will have incurred significant damages and will require a more detailed assessment of losses incurred. The second stage of the scheme will be a more lengthy process requiring a detailed assessment and will provide the scope for a further payment with the total payment available capped at €20,000. The total level of support available for both stages combined will be capped at €20,000. Application forms for the scheme are available on the Irish Red Cross website.

The Humanitarian Assistance scheme of the Department of Social Protection is available to assist people whose homes are damaged by flooding and other adverse weather conditions and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair.

The Department of Social Protection has activated its Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, administered by the local Community Welfare Service, to assist householders affected by the current bad weather conditions. The situation in all affected areas, is being monitored and Community Welfare Service staff are engaging with the local authorities and other agencies to ensure supports are being provided to those affected as swiftly as possible. Staff are assessing and meeting the demand for assistance by the public as the needs arise and when necessary are visiting the homes of persons affected.

This is happening in the Athlone area where the Department of Social Protection officials are in constant contact with Westmeath County Council and are providing whatever supports are required including the provision of additional clinics and visits to persons homes as necessary. Emergency Community Welfare Service clinics have been established in Grace Park Road Athlone, operating mornings and afternoons.

The Defence Forces and Civil Defence have been actively involved in assisting householders and businesses in Athlone under the terms of the Framework for Major Emergency Management. All of the available resources of the Defence Forces have been made available to support the principal response agencies and the Defence Forces have responded positively to all requests for support In the Athlone area, the Defence Forces have provided personnel and vehicles to support the provision of lighting, and the filling of sandbags. In addition floating water pumps have been provided to Westmeath County Council. The Air-Corp have provided and continue to provide Air Reconnaissance of rivers & coastal areas in the Headford and Athlone areas.

The local Civil Defence Units from Westmeath and Roscommon have been assisting with flood relief efforts including evacuating families from their homes, moving furniture, distributing sandbags and delivering fuel.

I would like to commend the Defence Forces, Civil Defence and all other agencies and volunteers who have tirelessly worked to assist householders and businesses Athlone and other flood stricken areas around the country over the past 10 days.

Paul Kehoe T.D.
Minister of State
at the Department of Defence


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