“There you go, that’s what’s left of the bakery, explains Françoise De Groote, the owner. Here was the counter, here there were my breads, cupboards … When we went down, the cupboards had gone over there, the marble counter was raised […] the expert came, he said that everything had to be pulled out… “
It was July 14, or the 15th, she doesn’t really know. Six months after the disaster, the Louis bakery in Angleur (Liège) has still not reopened. Insurance has not yet closed the case. “Frankly, I didn’t think it would last that long, said Michel Louis, Françoise’s husband, I can understand that I’m not the only one to be inundated […] I was hoping that as a small trader I would be given priority, but quite the opposite. My broker told me it was more complicated to estimate the value of the machines and all that. “
►►► “To close all compensation cases, we still have at least one year”
A tour of the workshop is enough to understand the extent of the damage: “There you are, the machines, nothing works anymore, continues the artisan baker, everything has to be redone. For six months, I have been going down to my studio every day, it makes me sick, it gets worse with the humidity… ”.
This morning, he went to the news with his broker. He had to return quotes that he had already provided. He no longer understands anything. “It hasn’t budged yet, he will send back the quotes given to him and we will wait for news from the expert…”.
Too many quotes and too much expertise
“These delays in the files are explained by the quantity of claims, says Nevert Degirmanci, spokesperson for Assuralia, the professional union of insurance companies. There are so many quotes to make that the craftsmen are overwhelmed, then there are often second opinions, requested either by the insurer or by the insured, and finally, it takes time for the houses to dry, we cannot go too fast in assessing the damage “.
Assuralia has done the accounts: 60% of the victims, all categories combined, cars, homes and small businesses have been compensated.
A whole family without a job
“Unemployment is declining, explains Cassandre Louis, at the beginning it is 70% and then it decreases. If we reopen in six or seven months, what am I going to do. I’m going to end up with nothing “.
“We have nothing left, we have to rebuild everything, Michel Louis tells us, restart everything. After a one-year closure (editor’s note: the time of the work), what are we going to get back as customers? The neighboring clientele perhaps, but those who came from further afield? Will they not have taken on new habits? “
►►►Six months after the floods, the flood of the Vesdre has not finished with the valley and its inhabitants
In Ensival, the insurance file finally closed
Half an hour from Angleur, in the town of Ensival, in the rue A. Snoeck, all the houses were damaged. At Charlotte Hodiaumont, there was more than four meters of water. The furniture has been lifted to the ceiling, even the old desk, “which weighed a ton”, the washing machine, the freezer, everything stole. Everything is destroyed. After six months of a grueling fight with the insurance company, the file was finally accepted. If all goes well, Charlotte’s family will receive the indemnity, and the work can finally begin.
“It was very hard, tells the young mother. When we sent an email, we waited a month for a response, not always complete, we had to ask for more details, and we waited another three or four weeks to receive a new response, again not always complete. This concerned the quotes “.
Your frames, you just need to clean them a little
And when the quote was accepted, the money was not paid as it went, we had to wait for the expert to come again. Impossible to start work under these conditions. “And for each request, we had to fight, adds Charlotte, for the frames, we were told, it suffices to clean them a little, whereas the frame, which had just been installed, is now domed. When you open it, there is still water coming out of it, the hardware stores will rust, if you don’t call in people who know about it, you get screwed. There is still a minimum of decency to be had so that people can rebuild themselves “.
►►►Find our special file: floods in Belgium, 6 months later
The Hodiaumont family had to relocate. At the beginning the insurance paid an indemnity for the rent, but this lasted only three months: “We were told, it’s just a flood, it’s not a big disaster. You will only have three months. If you have a complaint, send an email. We never got a response. “.
Between the rent and the mortgage loan, their savings melted away. The damage is so severe in the house that the work, once started, will take months.
“Look, here was my daughter’s room”, shows us Charlotte. There are only four bare walls, joists on the floor, holes in the ceiling. And in the house, everything is to match. Even the garden wall was torn off. Upstairs, only two rooms have been preserved. But there is no more heating, no more water in the bathroom, no more a cabinet. “If we were without the girls, we could have camped and washed at the sink, but with the little ones, that is not possible”.
“In all, we had a advance of 7,500 euros, but we have nothing left. We had to advance 6000 euros for the boiler, 1600 euros for cleaning the cellar and 2500 for electricity. Not to mention dehumidifiers and basic necessities. We quickly exceeded this amount. Our economies have melted “.
In the house there are five dehumidifiers. Twice a day, they must be emptied. It still leaves liters of water.
►►► Anxiety, fatigue, administrative burnout: the floods have left psychological traces
Charlotte shows us a video, on her phone. Her husband, the smallest of their daughters on her shoulders, who leaves the house under water. She films the scene, taking the larger one with her. “A policeman told us, take what you can and go, it’s going to keep going up. You would never have believed that the water would have risen to this point. We left on time “.
If all goes well, the insurance will pay out the money at the end of January. The work can then begin, if there is not too much delay among the contractors.. “Maybe we can come home by the end of the year. We had thought of selling. But who would buy in an area so devastated?”, Charlotte concludes.