New disaster plan for region comes into effect

Summary

Changes to the way people are compensated for damage caused by disasters have been approved by the government of Flanders

Process simplified

The government of Flanders has approved a proposed disaster plan for the region. Responsibility for disasters was passed to the regions with the last round of state reform, and Flanders is now in charge of compensating for any damage that occurred as a result of a natural disaster after 1 July, 2014.

Two recognised disasters have taken place since that date: Heavy rainfall caused severe damage in various provinces between 27 and 29 July 2014 (pictured), and again on 7 and 8 August the same year.

The new decree differs from the old system in a number of ways. Only general disasters are included; agricultural disasters will be covered in a separate decree; the decree will only cover damage not already covered by fire insurance, which covers most sorts of damage including ice and snow pressure, lightning, storm, flooding etc; applications for compensation must be filed within three months of the disaster being officially recognised; no advance on payment will be made; and the cost of private experts will no longer be reimbursed.

The procedure will also be simpler, with the Flemish Disaster Fund gathering data to determine recognition, taking the decision on recognition, deploying experts, determining the extent of compensation and deciding on applications.

“With this proposal for a new decree, the Flemish government has improved the old federal law by reducing delays, cutting red tape and introducing a more efficient procedure,” said minister-president Geert Bourgeois. The proposal must be approved by the Council of State and passed by the Flemish parliament.

Photo courtesy VRT