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Storm Ciarán victims "in limbo" about when they can move home

Storm Ciarán victims

Thursday 14 March 2024

Storm Ciarán victims "in limbo" about when they can move home

Thursday 14 March 2024

Over four months after being hit by Storm Ciarán, several FB Cottages properties are still being repaired – with residents claiming that their roofs are falling in and belongings rotting as they watch on from temporary accommodation on the other side of the island.

Estate agent Maillard&Co – who manage the properties on behalf of FB Cottages Housing Trust – admitted that the "lack of visual progress on site can give a false interpretation that little is being progressed", but reassured residents that repair work is underway.

During Storm Ciarán in November, a tornado battered parts of the east of the island during Storm Ciarán, with St Clement and Fliquet hit particularly hard

Neighbourhood "devastation"

At the time, Kerry Leadbetter – whose St Clement home was in the eye of the suspected tornado – described the “devastation” across her neighbourhood near FB fields.


Pictured: The Storm Ciarán tornado wrecked havoc on the south-east of the island. (Kerry Leadbetter)

“Huge, established trees from FB fields are gone,” she said. “There’s about five or six houses here that don’t have a roof.

“My neighbour’s house looks like a bomb site.” 

In the immediate aftermath, FB Cottages residents were given tenants a two-month rent-free period, and were assured they could retain their tenancies.

Residents were moved to temporary accommodation – some with other housing trusts, and others with family, in hotels or in self-catering accommodation.

Lack of repair progress

FB Cottages resident Angie Tonner was moved to Les Ormes after the FB Cottages house she had lived in for 16 years was rendered unsafe by the storm.

But she is now raising concerns about the lack of progress in the four-and-a-half months since Storm Ciarán.

"They haven't fixed anything since the storm," she said.

"They didn't even put tarpaulin... everyone's places got flooded."

storm ciaran repairs fb cottages rob currie.jpg

Pictured: The destruction after Storm Ciarán visible from the street. (Rob Currie)

The residents were promised a weekly email from Maillard&Co providing repair updates.

When the arrival of this email was delayed by a day last week, Angie's daughter Carly – who lived with her mum at FB Cottages before the storm – posted on social media explaining that residents felt "helpless and forgotten".

"So shocking and upsetting"

In her post, Carly described the "mess that FB Cottages is still in since the storm".

She wrote: "Zero work has been done to my family's house. Not a single thing – it's in the exact same state it was in when the tornado hit.

"It wasn't even given temporary waterproofing, so most of our belongings rotted away in rain water until we could organise a storage unit.

"The house, in fact, is still just rotting away."

Carly added: "It has been so shocking and upsetting seeing how this has been dealt with by them!"

storm ciaran at fb cottages four months on rob currie.jpg

Pictured: Garages and entryways were impacted too. (Rob Currie)

Angie told Express that months went by after the storm without her seeing any visible repairs to her home.

"It just looks exactly the same as it did after the storm," she said, explaining that a number of properties' roofs had caved in.

FB Cottages street lighting had not been repaired either, said Angie, leaving the residents who were able to stay on-site to walk around in the dark.

"I would rather be home"

Angie, who has been put up at Les Ormes with her family, said she appreciated her temporary accommodation – but added: "I would rather be home."

She said she could understand if repairs were slow, but she would like to get updates and know if she will ever be able to move back into her home.

"We don't even know if we'll be in that house," said Angie. "We don't know what's going on."

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Pictured: Many cars in the St Clement neighbourhood had their windows blown in by the storm. (Rob Currie)

She added that the FB Cottages residents understand that repairs might take a long time, but said: "It's the lack of communication more than anything.

"They could tell us what's going on – but we've just got nothing.

"We were just left in limbo."

"It's just been so frustrating"

Although the main point of contact for the displaced residents is Maillard&Co, the houses are actually owned by FB Cottages Housing Trust.

However, Angie raised concerns that residents had no idea who was behind the trust.

"I don't know who they are, where they are or anything," she said. "It's just been so frustrating."

storm ciaran four months on rob currie fb cottages.jpg

Pictured: Repair work is underway, according to Maillard&Co. (Rob Currie)

Responding to the complaints, estate agent Maillard&Co said that they had been on-site "on the day and days immediately after the storm helping residents and arranging for temporary repairs".

The estate agent added that repairs on 10 of the damaged properties where residents remained in situ have been completed.

Repairs to a further eight properties are currently in progress, they added.

Maillard&Co said that after these eight houses have been repaired, scaffolding will be moved to a further three damaged properties.

The statement explained that ten families from the most severely damaged properties remain in alternative accommodation. 

A "lack of visual progress on site"

Maillard&Co said: "The repairs to these properties have been specified, agreed by the loss adjuster and are out for tender.

"Once they are back, they will be reviewed and agreed with the loss adjuster and insurers, with a view to carrying out the repairs as soon as possible.

"In the interim, the replacement windows have now arrived and will soon be fitted."

storm ciaran repairs at fb cottages roof damage.jpg

Pictured: The "lack of visual progress", the estate agent said, hides the work that is being done. (Rob Currie)

Maillard&Co said: "We are in the process of commencing works to the children's play area, clearing garden walls, fallen trees and carrying out works to the communal gardens."

They reiterated the Trust granted a two-month rent-free period to affected residents immediately after the storm, and assured all residents that their tenancies would be retained.

Maillard&Co expressed understanding that the "lack of visual progress on site can give a false interpretation that little is being progressed" – but reassured residents that repair work is underway by the project manager, property managers and loss adjusters.

"Once the work to the remaining properties commences, good progress will be seen – allowing us to welcome back our residents as soon as possible," they added.

"We have committed and will continue to keep residents up to date on a weekly basis."

Pictured top: Scaffolding has now gone up one some of the houses. (Rob Currie)

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