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French town bit by severe hailstorms in June still in damaged disarray

Up to 97% of buildings were damaged in the short-but-severe hailstorm in Dordogne. The mayor feels like the residents have been ‘forgotten and abandoned’

Homes in the town of Ribérac with blue tarpaulins over their roofs

The town of Ribérac is suffering with ongoing storm damage and complications over delayed and slow insurance claim payouts Pic: Nick Jenkins

Homeowners in Dordogne whose properties were damaged in severe hailstorms are still waiting for help and repair work four months later, as the mayor says he “fears the worst” for public buildings too.

A short-but-serious hailstorm hit the town of Ribérac on June 20 this year. Enormous hailstones fell for three minutes, damaging 97% of homes across the commune. Cars were also severely damaged.

Four months later, most residents still have some kind of damage on their roofs, and many are simply relying on tarpaulins. As winter approaches, many are worried about how inclement weather – even if not particularly harsh – could wreak further damage.

Read more: Dordogne town battered by hail is left in limbo by French insurers 

Mayor of Ribérac, Nicolas Platon, told France 3 that the residents feel as though they have been abandoned and forgotten. In his role, he is responsible for 52 public buildings, including a cinema, library, and canteen.

However, several quotes for repair work have been refused by the municipality’s insurance company.

Buildings still in disarray include the church, which dates back to 1935 but has been closed since October 10. Water is leaking inside it, and the walls are deteriorating, making it increasingly dangerous.

Another local institution, the Café du palais, has also been closed since the start of October, and there is an extra complication, as the shoppers have since found out that their landlord did not have buildings insurance.

Mr Platon said: “If we do not have definite [positive] responses from our insurance in the next few days, I fear the worst for some buildings.”

Some residents have been told that they will have to wait until at least next year to receive insurance payouts, and others have faced administrative hurdles as they try to claim for damage on different parts of their homes and for vehicles.

French insurance companies can be required to pay out if a state of catastrophe naturelle (natural disaster) is declared following a natural phenomenon such as storms, but this has not happened for Ribérac, despite residents calling for the same.

This is because damage caused by hail is generally not covered by catastrophe naturelle provisions. 

Read also: Storm damage in France: How to manage an insurance claim for your home

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