Please note that threads in this topic are removed from the archive 90 days after the thread was started. If you would like your thread to be retrievable for longer than that, please choose another topic in which to post it.

Do flood victims with no insurance lose everything?

(74 Posts)
Nancy66 Wed 29-Jan-14 13:48:20

Have just been listening to some poor lady in Somerset on the radio sobbing her heart out.

She says she's uninsured because no insurance company will touch them after they flooded a year ago. Says she can't sell because nobody will buy and the property, and even the surrounding land, is worthless.

Does she get any compensation from the government? Or does she just have to accept having lost everything she owned?

hootloop Wed 29-Jan-14 13:55:55

I am not sure, I would like to think they get something but at the end of the day can the government really take responsibility for the weather? Though as a lot of the flooding is due to bad land management upstream and permission being given to build on flood plains I would think they have to take some responsibility.

HesterShaw Wed 29-Jan-14 13:57:46

I don't know but I've not been able to stop thinking about them.

The Levels is a man made landscape, so when its maintenance is abandoned, then nature will reclaim it. However the EA didn't think to let its residents know the decision which was made and which they're suffering for.

I'm generally a bit of a greenie, but when the self righteous pop up saying "Well what did they expect, building on a flood plain?" it makes me so angry on behalf of those poor people. The Dutch have huge amounts of land below sea level, but realise they need to maintain it to keep back the water.

Another factor is farming. This is agricultural land - this was the reason the land was drained in the first place. Food security will be a massive problem in the future - we need to keep agricultural land.

Poledra Wed 29-Jan-14 13:58:37

I think the government should be underwriting insurance policies for them. I accept that people bought these houses at their own risk but really, how many of us know if our house is on a floodplain? (I know mine is not but that's because DH knows about this sort of thing).

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 29-Jan-14 14:00:17

There was a government scheme for a while, but I think it's ended now.

Hang on.

ArthurCucumber Wed 29-Jan-14 14:01:26

Seriously? (I must admit to being uninformed on this subject...)

So you buy a house in good faith, maybe one that's never flooded before. It was floods, possibly due to a change in the flood plain boundaries or plain bad management by someone upstream. Or maybe it already was on a historical flood plain but you didn't know. Your insurance pays out but then you can't get more insurance? And then it floods again, and the house/land is now worthless, and you are left with nothing?

Fucking hell, if that is true it's an outrage. Those poor people.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 29-Jan-14 14:03:27
Nancy66 Wed 29-Jan-14 14:03:37

I really hope not Arthur. It would be heart-breaking if that were true and horribly unfair.

The lady I heard on the radio sounded utterly desperate though an certainly didn't give the impression she was being helped

HesterShaw Wed 29-Jan-14 14:06:53

A lot of these houses have been in the same family for generations, especially the farm houses.

The rivers have always been dredged. Now they're not. The levels have always flooded, but before the water used to drain away. Now it's not.

It's not rocket science is it, despite what the bloody government says (that even dredging the Parrett and Tone rivers wouldn't have coped with the rainfall)

These houses are now just sitting in a sea of silt and sewage. Grim.

Oh and apparently someone well meaning has said the children aren't allowed to get to school on the back of a tractor driven trailer because it breaks health abd safety laws. The irony is hilarious.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 29-Jan-14 14:07:25
ArthurCucumber Wed 29-Jan-14 14:14:30

So the local authorities stopped managing the watercourses and drainage - I assume because that would cost money? - people's homes and farms have flooded as a consequence, insurance companies now won't touch them and the householders just have to lose everything? And it's just their problem?

Sorry, I know I'm repeating things and sounding dense here - I'm not anywhere near Somerset and know nobody affected - but I can't quite bring myself to believe that people have been left in such a shitty situation.

Nancy66 Wed 29-Jan-14 14:16:43

I hope they all get together and take a group action against the environment agency.

It seems that some of the locals used to dredge the rivers themselves to protect their land and homes but were told they had to stop or face prosecution.

MoreBeta Wed 29-Jan-14 14:18:48

A lot of the houses I have seen flooded in Somerset are modern houses. They have been built on land around the edges of farms that farmers sold so I have no sympathy there either for farmer or home owner.

Farmers sell land for housing and make a lot of money. It really was the responsibility of the house buyers to check they were not on a flood plain.

I live very close to one of the largest and most often flooded rivers in Britain. It floods several times a year every year. Its frequently a mile wide at times in front of my house - but I made damn sure I am on a bank 8 - 10 metres above the flood water's highest ever record height.

Really it isn't rocket science and people buying houses on flood plains bought cheap houses and are hoping someone else will bail them out. Put up your own flood defences is the response. It is possible to put them up to keep water from entering your house. It costs money but so does insurance.

HesterShaw Wed 29-Jan-14 14:26:21

Good for you MoreBeta.

You haven't heard these tales of old houses which have never flooded, now being flooded then?

It's an awful lot more complex than you appear to realise.

Your post appears to entirely lack compassion, empathy and understanding

DollyParsnip Wed 29-Jan-14 14:26:31

I think it's hard even if you have insurance, tbf - a friend of mine was flooded a few years ago in Sheffield. Although the insurance covered a lot of expected items they were still in a lot of financial trouble as they had to pay for additional housing, 2 sets of council tax and utilities bills on top of the stuff they lost in the flood. They were away from their house for 18 months and now their insurance is stupid, even though the flood was totally unexpected in their area, and they are unlikely to get anything back if they sell.

Lamu Wed 29-Jan-14 14:49:40

Whilst I feel incredibly sorry for people whose homes have flooded multiple times in as many years. Whether or not your house is built on a flood plain comes out on the searches on purchasing a house if I remember correctly. Therefore they bought knowing there was some risk it could happen. The fact is the weather is becoming more unpredictable, I'd be taking my own steps to prevent it happening again and again in that situation.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 29-Jan-14 14:51:47

Flood zones are getting bigger though, it wasn't necessarily at risk when they bought it.

HesterShaw Wed 29-Jan-14 14:55:27

But this isn't the point here! The point is, that until recently, the rivers of the Levels were dredged. This is a man made landscape, and dredging and ditches were essential to maintain it. We are being told of houses many years old which have never flooded before November/December 2012, and now they are under water again. Funnily enough this coincides with the Environment Agency's decision to STOP maintaining the dredging and general upkeep of the Levels.

This is why people are upset and angry. They have been saying and saying the rivers and drains need maintaining and yet nothing has been done.

And again, many of these houses have been in the same ownership for a long time, farmhouses etc.

HesterShaw Wed 29-Jan-14 14:57:29

Cross posts.

And if you are a local family which has been unable to afford a house until a new affordable development is built, which you are assured is safe from flooding because that bit of land has never flooded before, do you then deserve outsiders pointing at you and saying "You deserve it because you bought on a flood plain"?

People aren't angry at the authorities for causing the weather. They're not stupid.

Jaisalmer Wed 29-Jan-14 14:58:15

I feel desperately sorry for people who have been flooded for over a month, I mean how they heck do they get to work, walk the dog, do the weekly shop? All that stuff we take for granted it must be soul destroying.

Added to that the fact that they are uninsured would be enough to break even the strongest person, what is the point in repairing and rebuilding if it is going to happen again the following spring or whatever.

To not have sympathy for them is just heartless, yes ok there is the whole buying on a flood plain issue but the rain this year has been unbelievable coupled with the lack of dredging how many homeowners would really imagine that this might happen to them?

I absolutely think that the govt needs to give financial assistance and pretty quickly too.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 29-Jan-14 15:00:36

It's perfectly possible to buy a house that didn't flood 10-20 years ago, and have it start flooding. Increasing urbanisation can increase flooding- as more places where there used to be soil are covered in concrete/tarmac, it affects where the water can go. Even a lot of your neighbours concreting over their front gardens to make a driveway etc can have an affect.

You can't control what building work goes on around your house once you have bought it, and you aren't always in a position to sell on. Yes, I would avoid buying a house I knew to be regularly flooded, but if a floodplain is well managed, it is perfectly possible to live on- as others have said, look at the Netherlands.

As sea levels rise, and more housing is needed, the government should look at managing areas apropriately so they don't flood, rather than changing river management so that flooding is more likely.

I believe some people have similar problems with landslides, for example in SE Cornwall. You can buy a house that is currently on stable ground, but a few years later there is a landslip- your house becomes unsafe, uninsurable and unsaleable. Yes, it may be possible to predict if you know a lot about the local area, and get all the right surveys done, but even then it is only possible to make educated guesses, and you can't predict what will happen in the future.

I do feel sorry for people in this sort of situation.

Nancy66 Wed 29-Jan-14 15:05:38

It's a little bit rich that we (quite rightly) send millions in aid to flood victims in other countries but it's a big, fat 'fuck you' to the ones on our own soil.

blackteaplease Wed 29-Jan-14 15:07:27

I very much doubt that the Environment Agency would have stopped maintenance without telling the landowners. They have so many layers of beuracracy to get approved internally before a decision can go ahead and these include several rounds of public consultation.

MinesAPintOfTea Wed 29-Jan-14 15:08:07

Yes. And its desperately sad.

The environment agency should certainly be taken to task for reducing management of the Levels but I don't think the government can do anything about the insurance problem. There is a moral hazard in giving everyone insurance in spite of where their property is, it actually encourages building/buying on flood plains. If as a country we want to encourage this then yes we should underwrite it, if we don't then we can't do so.

Lamu Wed 29-Jan-14 15:08:49

I haven't seen a single post where anyone said the flooding was deserved. Far from it. People have lost their possessions and livelihoods. However I just think if you're relying on the government to do something about this in the long term I'm afraid it will be a long time coming, if at all.

YY there should be better land management to prevent this happening but surely the problem is just shifted elsewhere. I don't know much about dredging of rivers etc tbh.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now