Insurance firms 'may blacklist flood areas'
Families and businesses that make a claim to cover the cost of the devastating floods in the north-west face being stuck in areas set to be blacklisted by insurance companies.
Insurers are bracing for millions of euro of claims after thunderstorms and flash floods left a trail of destruction across Donegal and neighbouring counties.
Insurance experts said those making a claim for the damage to their homes, farms and businesses are likely to get a pay-out.
However, insurers will then decline to provide them with flood cover in future.
The revelation comes as homeowners and businesses are coming to terms with the massive damage inflicted by the flash foods.
People who suffered damage have been advised to employ the services of an insurance assessor to help detail the cost and act on their behalf in negotiating with insurers.
Paul Kavanagh, who heads up one of the largest insurance brokerages in the country, McCarthy Insurance Group, said insurers were blacklisting homeowners and businesses in any town that has experienced flooding.
Brian McNelis, of Brokers Ireland, the newly-merged representative body for brokers, said homeowners should make the case that the heavy floods were a one-in-100-year event.
He said insurers may review at renewal but will increase rates or excesses.
Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said her department had activated its humanitarian assistance scheme.
Last night, Minister Joe McHugh announced that a Defence Forces platoon of thirty personnel will arrive in Donegal this morning to help with the clean-up. They will be deployed in Inishowen from 9am.
Earlier, a Donegal farmer told the Herald that the flooding and the damage it has caused was "truly heart-breaking".
Carndonagh local Paddy McLoughlin was called to action as soon as the first emergency calls started to come through.
Working for the council's road department, Mr McLoughlin helped minimise the damage flood waters caused.
However, in doing so he had to leave his own farm unaided.
"I was trying to help other people with immediate flood relief, as the rain was coming down hard," he said.
"It was very frightening and at the same time I knew I had to get back to my farm to save my lambs.
"By the time I did get back the flooding had risen so quickly that I couldn't even get near the ground. It was unbelievable how fast it came up.
"I'm 43 and never remember anything like this happening before. Twenty-five years ago, my family spent a considerable amount of money building an embankment on their land, but it was completely wiped away."
As the water began to recede, Mr McLoughlin realised that 20 of his lambs were missing.
"The flood caused a lot of damage. Among the 20 lambs missing included a breeding lamb, which is worth about €700. The rest are worth about €120 each," he said.
"It's not about money though. I was just devastated over the loss of my family farm.
"I call myself more of a hobby farmer. I do it for enjoyment more than anything else. I just love working with animals."