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Huge cost of clearing damage from storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin across West Midlands

Insurers are counting the cost for damage caused by Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin that hit the West Midlands in February.

Floodwater in Bewdley following high rainfall from Storm Franklin
Floodwater in Bewdley following high rainfall from Storm Franklin

Th bill nationally is expected to be nearly £500 million.

The storms battered our region, with dozens of trees pulled down as gusts of 80mph struck.

Communities on the course of the River Severn were particularly badly hit. Flood barriers were out in Shrewsbury, but many properties were still swamped with water. Large parts of the town were sealed off to traffic for several days and rail services through Shropshire were severely disrupted. A severe 'danger to life' flood warning was issued in Ironbridge and Bewdley because of fears the defences would fail.

Flooding in Coleham, Shrewsbury. Photo: Paul Ebrey

Urban areas also suffered in the region. A tree fell onto a pub, a wall collapsed against a house and a car was crushed by a tree in just some of the incidents that happened in a chaotic 24 hours in the West Midlands.

Branches crashed into the roof of the Bell and Bear Inn in Rowley Regis as customers ate their Sunday lunch, a car was crushed in Sutton Park, but the occupants managed to escape, and a large section of wall collapsed in Blakenhall and a section of roof flew from a warehouse in the centre of Wolverhampton.

Nationally, around 177,000 claims have been made for damaged homes, businesses and vehicles, with total payouts of £497 million predicted, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Of these claims, 169,500 relate to property damage, costing around £473 million.

There were also 7,522 claims for damage caused to vehicles, leading to claims worth around £23 million.

Floods minister Rebecca Pow visited Beales Corner, Bewdley to assess the damage

On top of this, emergency payments to relieve immediate hardship have totalled £13 million.

And it is also estimated that £2.2 million will be paid in arranging alternative temporary accommodation for policyholders whose homes were uninhabitable while repairs were carried out.

The scale of the total bill is similar to an estimated £543 million paid in storm and flood claims following Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge in February 2020.

Sarah Brodie, the ABI's senior policy adviser, general insurance, said: "Storms and floods are exactly the type of unwelcome event that insurance protects against.

Shrewsbury's February 2022 flooding viewed from the air. Photo: Bruce Buglass

"When bad weather strikes, the priority for insurers is always to do all they can to help their customers recover from what can be a traumatic and costly experience as quickly as possible.

"From making immediate emergency payments where needed, arranging temporary alternative accommodation while badly damaged properties are being repaired, to organising repairs, insurers continue to support their customers whenever storms strike."

The clean up operation at the West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury

Ben Wilson, the ABI's director of corporate affairs and climate change, said: "The Environment Agency projects that winter rainfall could increase by between 6% and 13%, while the sea level rises by at least 23cm – at a time when the number of properties on flood plains is projected to double.

"The scale of this challenge demands that we maintain our sector's focus on net zero and delivering our climate change roadmap."

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