Council clean-up puts people first, as scale of damage hits £2m and rising

The scale of the damage done to Dumfries and Galloway by recent storms is revealed in a report to members of the Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee today (12 January 2016).

The report shows that the estimated costs for the response and recovery to the flooding caused by Storm Desmond and Storm Frank in December has reached £2million and will rise as officers continue to inspect buildings, halls, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure to assess the damage following the floods.

Council officers are still visiting the worst hit parts of the region, helping individuals who have had to leave their homes. Since the flooding Business advisors have also been out and about knocking on all the doors of businesses affected by the floods, speaking to owners and staff and providing details of available support.

Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, Colin Smyth, said “The emergency response was one of the biggest in recent years and ensured we kept people safe and they received the care they needed. However, weeks on Council staff continue to work round the clock to help families and businesses that are still suffering.

“We have prioritised our response and have been putting people first. We have had Council staff out meeting local businesses in the flooded areas, speaking to the owners and identifying the issues. Staff have also been out to meet people in the worst affected residential areas, some who are still out of their homes, to identify what help they need. The level of support being provided is unprecedented but we are committed to helping as best we can. A dedicated helpline is running and specific pages of information on flooding support is on the council website”.

“However, the sheer scale of the devastation caused can be seen by the fact the Council has already spent a huge amount in clean up costs and grants and the estimated bill to the council for the recovery has reached £2m and is rising. This excludes the funds we have being paid out to individuals such as the crisis grants we have been paying since early December. In addition there is a huge clean up costs that businesses, households and insurance companies are due to the damage to their properties”

Council officers also met with the Government last week to discuss how support and financial relief announced for Storm Desmond would be extended so that we could use this to deal with the impact of Storm Frank, and could get this out to those households and businesses who need it now. Over the weekend, the Scottish Government committed £1million of grant support for owners whose properties were flooded in the region but along with the £700,000 for Storm Desmond, confirmed this would not be paid to the council until March. However, they agreed that if the council paid out grants in advance of receiving the funding they would not be penalised .

Councillor Smyth welcomed the announcement at the weekend of the removal of the restriction by Scottish Government that help was only being for victims of Storm Desmond , with extra funds being announced to support those affected by Storm Frank.

Councillor Smyth added, “.I’m furious that there have been false claims that the council are holding up payments of grants. The initial promised support from the Scottish Government was only for Storm Desmond, which meant everyone in the region whose property was damaged by flooding at the New Year was excluded from any grant through the Government. We called on the Government to extend the support to those hit by Storm Frank and I’m pleased they agreed to do so on Saturday. By the beginning of the week we were paying out grants ahead of other councils in Scotland to pay out grants. However, this is being funded by local council taxpayers at present because disgracefully the Scottish Government are still refusing to allocate the funding to councils until March. It is also clear that the funding so far allocated from the Scottish Government doesn’t come close to dealing with the huge clean up costs facing the council with the bill already at £2m and rising.”

Support being provided:
Grant funding of £1,500 is available to premises that were affected by the severe flooding events in December 2015 and January 2016.
The Scottish Government is providing Dumfries and Galloway Council funding to support and assist those who have been most affected by the severe flooding. The funding is now available for flood affected households, businesses, community groups (such as rugby clubs, etc) or charitable organisations in the region with a flat rate grant of £1,500 each.
If you have not been in touch with the Council but your home, business or community group was badly inundated, you can complete the form online or phone the dedicated phone number and speak to a member of the flood team. We will do our best to make sure you receive your payment within 24hours.
Complete the online form
• Flood payment phone line – 030 33 33 3009
• Email – [email protected]
Where appropriate, the Council is also providing support to individuals through crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund and through council tax relief. Information is available on the Council website: www.dumgal.gov.uk

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