€5,000 state payout for flooded business owners
Money to be paid before Christmas
Business owners who have "gone through hell" as a result of Storm Desmond will be able to avail of emergency payments of up to €5,000 over the next 10 days, Defence Minister Simon Coveney has pledged.
The Coalition yesterday finalised the details of its €5m emergency fund, which is targeted at businesses that do not have insurance cover for flood damage.
It is envisaged that the scheme, which is being operated by the Red Cross on behalf of the Government, will see payments made electronically before Christmas to those affected.
Applicants will not be expected to provide supporting paperwork, other than confirmation from an engineer that the flood damage has occurred.
"By and large, this will be based on trust, on self-declaration of what it costs to put the business back up and running again. On that basis, they will be paid quickly and the money will be electronically transferred to their account," Mr Coveney said. "Hopefully, it will provide some relief for people who have been through hell over the last few days.
"There are businesses which I'm sure are going to have a very difficult time in the coming days," the minister added.
It was confirmed yesterday that businesses which have suffered more serious flood damage, such as structural defects, will be able to apply for up to a further €15,000 in the New Year.
However, this payment will only be made after a detailed assessment of the damage is produced.
The details of the emergency funding emerged as families in flood-prone areas fear for the worst.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) warned yesterday that the River Shannon is expected to swell further, which will pose serious risks to properties in several counties including Clare, Westmeath and Limerick.
Cork City is at particular risk this week as it emerged that a new weather warning is due to be issued.
The Defence Forces have said their personnel are on standby.
Speaking during his state visit to Portugal, President Michael D Higgins said his thoughts were with those bracing themselves for further flooding.
"I saw it last year in Limerick and Cork," he said. The President will return home tomorrow.
He added: "Just think of putting ourselves in the position of those families waiting for something to happen, which is even worse than trying to respond to it when it has happened."
At a press conference last night, Mr Coveney and OPW minister Simon Harris urged homeowners to prepare for the worst this weekend.
"People will be ready for what's coming. That doesn't mean they'll be able to stop it. But at least they'll be ready for it. So I would encourage people to heed the warnings," Mr Coveney said.
"If Met Éireann is making forecasts; if this office is warning people; if local authorities are getting a message out to people in their homes or people in their businesses, listen to what they are saying, prepare for it as best you can.
"Ask for help if you don't have it and we will try and help you, through the emergency services and through the planning procedures as best we can."
The minister also said that he expected Irish Water to play its part in the overall flood-response efforts.
"Irish Water is part of the mix here because drinking water can be affected by flooding. It's a major issue, in fact some areas are under boiled area notices," Mr Coveney said.
"Irish Water will be very used to working with local authorities. Most people in Irish Water are from local authorities. There should be tight co-ordination between the two and that shouldn't be a problem."
Meanwhile, Mr Harris rejected suggestions that the Government's response to the crisis was reactive.
He said: "We can't stop the rain and we cannot prevent every flood but it is important that we have a Government and a State that is compassionate, humane and decent and tries to be as efficient as possible in getting a system to those who most need it."