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June 20, 2024
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What kind of State assistance can I expect if my property is flooded? – The Irish Times

Everybody knows the kind of damage storms and flooding can cause to property. Particularly after last winter, there is an awareness that insurance cover is not always sufficient – or even available. So what happens if your property is in the path of the next major weather event?

What help is available if my home is flooded?

A means-tested Humanitarian Assistance Scheme run by the Department of Social Protection could be opened in the aftermath of extreme weather events. It is designed for those whose homes are damaged by flooding and severe conditions and who are unable to meet costs for essential needs, household items and structural repair. The scheme does not meet losses already covered by insurance policies, so a good first step is to contact an insurance provider if you have one.

How big is the fund and do I qualify for it?

The multi-million euro scheme had an additional €3 million in funding secured last year following severe storms. It is means-tested, but there was an agreement in Government to increase the income-limit levels for eligibility. These currently stand at €50,000 for a single person and €90,000 for a couple, increasing by €15,000 for each dependent child. A reduced or tapered level of support may be provided in cases where families have income above the limits. Homeowners affected by severe weather who need to access available supports can contact the Community Welfare Service by phoning 0818 60 70 80.

What does the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme cover and how does it work?

In dealing with emergency events, the department generally adopts a three-stage approach. The first provides emergency income support payments for items such as food, clothing and personal items in the immediate aftermath of the event. The second involves the replacement of white goods, basic furniture and other essential household items. Finally, longer-term financial supports are considered for necessities including plastering, dry-lining, relaying of floors, electrical rewiring and painting. Income limits do not apply to stage-one support payments, as the scheme is designed to provide immediate financial support to anyone that needs it.

Is there a scheme for flood-damaged businesses?

Yes, there are potentially two. The Emergency Business Flooding Scheme can be activated by Government following flooding caused by a severe weather event and is available for small businesses, sports clubs and community and voluntary organisations unable to secure flood insurance. The Enhanced Emergency Business Flooding Scheme is an exceptional scheme that applies only in areas where there has been extreme flooding with substantial damage to businesses.

What sort of damage do they cover?

Both schemes provide a contribution towards the costs of returning damaged premises to their pre-flood condition, including the replacement of flooring, fixtures and fittings and damaged stock, and are administered by the Irish Red Cross on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Do I have any other options?

Financial assistance is also possible by way of immediate low-cost loans from Microfinance Ireland. That facility is for small businesses that cannot get loan financing from other lenders. Loan options include cashflow sums of up to €25,000, which can be used for general business purposes including restocking and other business costs. Loans for capital expenditure are also available that could fund the refurbishment of premises or the replacement of damaged equipment.

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