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News Report Page 7 of 12
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Storms highlight future problems facing the Liverpool City Region

THE impact of climate change has really been noticed in the UK since the start of 2022, as the damage from Storm Arwen, back in November 2021 is still being cleared up; since when we have experienced a run of further storms. These latest storms to batter the UK have brought with them more widespread power outages and flooding in many parts of the UK and we didn't need to go far to see fallen trees being cut down. Sadly, this procession of storms also claimed lives as well, including here on Merseyside, after Storm Eunice's winds picked up debris, and smashed it through a van windscreen, on Switch Island, killing a 68 year old Stephen Matthews and injuring a passenger. The storm was also dubbed 1 of the most serious weather incidents in decades to hit the UK. Until now, 2 named storms in a week had been the record, but this year has witnessed 3 named storms within 7 days. It is not just the wind these storms bring that can cause damage and loss of life. These storms often result in flooding. Floods can cause massive destruction to homes and disrupt day-to-day life, long after the winds have calmed. This increasingly frequent flooding 'slows down' recovery from storms and also could add even more complexity on dealing with issues around sea levels rising. Not only that, but the winds are increasingly eroding large parts of the UK's coastline. This could make hundreds of thousands of homes harder to insure because of being seen as a high risk of flooding. Worryingly, as the climate continues to warm, the effects will increase, as will heavy rainfall events in general, not just connected to storms like Storm Franklin, Dudley and Eunice. We are to expect these weather patterns to become more common, according to the UK's Met Office.

Because of climate change, both the chance and consequence of flooding has increased. Sea levels rise, more frequent and higher storm surges and increased increasing rain falls, are already affecting insurance policies. Most residential and commercial buildings and contents insurance policies included flood cover. Back in 2021, it was widely reported that around 1.95 million homes within the UK had no guarantee of getting affordable home insurance that includes flood damage. This figure is likely to rise significantly in 2022. The British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) says:- "1 in 6 properties are at flood risk in England."  properties are at risk of flooding, and that number could be set to rise. The financial impacts on both businesses and families suffering floods are shocking. The health and mental issues associated with dealing with it are acute. This situation is getting worse as the most significant aspect of weather related factor affecting the UK's economy is connected to flooding incidents.

Local Authorities are under pressure to meet the Government's target 300K new build homes per year. 1 result is that even newly built homes and not just older homes are falling into murky waters. Unfortunate people in flood risk areas not only worry about the flooding, but also suffer the anxiety about the financial implications, especially if they are unable to obtain insurance cover, even if they do not experience any flooding. Some living within:- "at risk" areas often report feelings of being:- "trapped" by their lack of insurance according to a recent joint study by Defra and the Environment Agency. All this can mean you can't sell the property easily and it often affects mortgage applications.

Insurance companies and the Government have been working together to develop a different way of dealing with flood insurance. Currently EloodRe, a joint initiative between the Government and insurers has been set up to help. Its aim is to make the flood cover part of household insurance policies more affordable, but that isn't a long-term flood insurance solution. Also, not all homes are covered.

Yet, shockingly in the UK, the planning system does allow new homes to be built in areas at risk of flooding, but only in very specific circumstances! Recent revelations however suggest that subsidising the building of Affordable Homes on floodplains is more ride spread than realised. This folly of building more homes in these areas is abundantly clear, yet we are seeing more and more homes being built on flood land, even within Formby, using a loop hole that allows building in so called low risk flood areas areas to be used, with small changes to drainage.

Shockingly, we are already seeing increasing flooding incidents throughout the area, often attributed to surface water run off. Also, we have had the bursting of river banks in parts of Merseyside. We are also hearing that Sefton will be 1 of the worst affected areas of Merseyside if sea levels continue to rise. Coastal beauty spots from Crosby, right up to Formby and Southport will be unrecognisable as they are today, as large parts of Sefton, Wirral and Warrington are at risk of being entirely submerged. With the added pressures of increasing storms like Storm Franklin, we will see even more issues around housing stocks. This issue will put even more strain on the poorest within our society, as even more people will need to be evacuated from their homes due to severe flooding.

Given that climate change is causing sea level rise, increasing the risk of flooding around the UK's coastline, and that the increasing number of storms are accelerating coastal erosion, and that both of these hazards pose a risk to people and the environment, we need urgent, decisive management and guidance, based on solid foundations, not whimsical remarks and fingers-crossed statements. We take for granted our way of life, but as a nation, we will need to be ready to change. So just how prepared are we as a nation for the increasing changes in our climate, and how can we prevent worse floods, power cuts, travel chaos, and loss of life? With Covid19 and Russia raging war, we are in danger of overlooking this warning that these storms have delivered us. What are your thoughts on the growing problems around the issues Climate Change is bringing to our area? Please email your thoughts to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

A few useful links:-

LINK Knowsley Council – Flood Risk Management

LINK Liverpool City Council – Extreme Weather

LINK Sefton Council – Flooding advice

LINK Wirral Council – Flooding

LINK Flood risk assessments: climate change allowances

LINK Merseyside Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Partnership

LMIK Merseyside Community Risk Register- Main Risks & Emergency Preparedness

LINK Flooding in England: A National Assessment of Flood Risk

LINK Citizens Advice - If you've been flooded, but don't have insurance.

Did you know? The shocking findings by the UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Roles as primary caregivers and providers of food and fuel make them more vulnerable when flooding and drought occur. This finding was also supported by Action Aid.

Leading rural insurer NFU Mutual supporting thousands of customers after Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin batter the UK!

THE storms that hit the UK brought with them gusts as high as 120mph in parts, leaving widespread damage to homes, farms and other businesses, all across the UK. Damage to power lines resulted in power cuts, trees were pulled from the ground, and buildings were damaged as the winds ripped through the country.

NFU Mutual, which activated its emergency plan last week to prepare for the storm and protect its customers, is progressing thousands of claims from across the UK, with the highest volume of claims reported from the South West and South East of England. The insurer expects the number of claims to continue rising throughout the week, particularly after Storm Franklin hit through the night and into Monday morning.

Local Agents and NFU Mutual regional and national claims teams continue to assist customers with claims, and an online form set up for those with non-urgent damage saw a submission every 30 seconds at its peak. As part of its emergency response, NFU Mutual has increased resources to continue to provide prompt and supportive service during this period of high demand.

Commenting on the response to Storm Eunice, Paul Branch, Head of Claims at NFU Mutual, said:- "We have already received thousands of claims for damage relating to Storm Eunice, with our busiest period seeing new claims coming in every thirty seconds during peak times. Early indications suggest that Eunice has the potential to be larger than Storm Arwen, which caused widespread damage to farms and the countryside across the North East of England and Scotland and resulted in 7,500 claims to NFU Mutual. NFU Mutual plans for events such as these so we can provide the support our customers need when they need it most. By activating our emergency response last week, we have been able to take care of our customers notifying claims to us, ensuring their safety and that of their property. In addition, we have been helping with alternative accommodation or emergency payments for vital purchases and settling simpler claims on the spot, as well as, supported by our expert loss adjusters to review the damage, ensuring that repairs can begin without delay. At times like this, our network of over 295 Agency offices across the UK really comes into its own, using their close links to the local community to help people stay safe, well, and ready to get back to their lives. We urge anybody who has suffered damage to contact their insurer if they have not already done so."

In Wells, where a Church spire was toppled last week by strong winds, Senior NFU Mutual Agent Gemma Heal, who also suffered damage to her own property, said:- "This has been the worst weather event that I have seen in my 21 year career at NFU Mutual and our absolute focus is to be there to support our customers and reassure them. Our office alone has received over a hundred claims from homes, farms and other rural businesses and it's been all hands on deck. The storm has been devastating as farms have suffered roofs being ripped off barns and stables, homeowners have had stonework crushed by trees and greenhouses have been shattered. People have been incredibly resilient, but these incidents are hugely distressing and we want to do everything we can to help."

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