Issued at 4.30pm on Friday 22 January 2016
Our flood zone project management teams are now established in the areas worst affected by Decembers’ storms and floods. There are different challenges within each region and we continue to monitor problems and overall claims progress through our dedicated zone managers. Initial reports (below) give an overview of the position within each zone.
Carlisle, North Lakes and South Lakes
We’re progressing well with the drying out programme in Cumbria. In the city of Carlisle there are many Victorian properties with thick masonry walls, and these buildings will take much longer to dry out than the more modern houses that can be found in Keswick and other areas. Here, some properties are already undergoing repairs. The bridge in Cockermouth is now fully open, which will make access much easier for everyone.
Having a strong local presence is much appreciated, by both domestic and commercial customers. If someone has a query, we can get a member of our team out within 24-hours to assist and resolve the problem. This face-to-face support is working particularly well for more vulnerable customers.
Challenges: We’re at the stage where quite a few people are involved in each claim – adjuster, surveyor, strip-out and drying contractors, builders, etc, which can be confusing for customers. We’ordinating all this activity, as well as focusing on making sure every customer understands exactly who they can expect to do what and when.
Yorkshire and Surrounding Areas
The floodwaters have dissipated and the strip-out programme has started in many areas. Looting continues to be a problem, particularly in York City and the Calder Valley. We’re advising customers to remove all valuables and make sure their properties are secure. We’re concentrating on providing consistent customer follow-up care, whilst also reminding customers to get their list of damaged contents together whilst it’s still fresh in their memories.
Challenges: Claims are widespread across this region and so our people on the ground are spending a good deal of time travelling between the various visits required in the early stages of each claim. This situation will ease once the restoration programme is underway.
Lancashire and Surrounding Areas
All major motorways and main routes around the area were quickly opened after the floods. Some of the smaller villages are still a little difficult to access, but this is improving all the time. The strip-out and drying programmes are underway for most customers and we’re progressing with arrangements for repairs, as well as encouraging the early submission of contents claims.
Our teams on the ground are checking the progress of drying out programmes, to save disturbing those homeowners who are in alternative accommodation. We’re also assisting customers who have questions regarding their alternative accommodation, once the timeline for their works has been established.
Challenges: A wide range of properties have been affected, from older, traditionally built stone structures in the villages, to the more recently built modern homes – where we can use faster, thermodynamic drying systems. So the reinstatement programmes will differ for each property and this needs to be carefully managed.
Ballater, Aboyne and Inverurie were badly hit by the surge event, although other areas were also affected by the floodwaters. Access around the region was largely unaffected, and so our visits could be arranged within a reasonable timeframe.
Almost all of the initial visits have now been completed and customers have been very welcoming. We’re focused on allowing the additional time needed to reassure and assist those customers who need extra help and support in processing their claim.
Challenges: Snow and freezing temperatures have followed the recent significant rainfall and this has put a heavy demand on heating and drying equipment. There are also reports of looting in various locations, and this has caused some customers to elect to stay in their homes.
Grants and Financial Assistance
To help local residents and businesses recover after the floods, the local authorities within each area are administering different support schemes. These include the Government compensation scheme, Council tax relief, flood repair grants, funding for flood-affected businesses and various community schemes. We’re advising customers to contact their local District Council to find out if they’re eligible for support under any of these initiatives.
The cold, wintery weather finally arrived, but the outlook for this weekend and the week ahead is for generally milder temperatures, with more rain across the UK.