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Why the Bihucourt tornado is not recognized as a natural disaster

The Pas-de-Calais prefecture explains that damage caused by the violent winds of a tornado is covered by the insurance contracts’ “storm, hail and snow”.

The tornado that hit the town of Bihucourt on October 23 will not be recognized as a “natural disaster”.

The Pas-de-Calais prefecture does not consider this recognition necessary and provokes “strong winds”. According to her, the damage caused by the latter is covered by the “storm, hail and snow” insurance guaranteed by the insurance contracts.

The departmental authority therefore assesses that the victims can be compensated without the state needing to intervene, as the state of natural disaster provides better insurance coverage. The utility of the recognition of a state of natural disaster is precisely to allow compensation for damages that are not included in the contracts.

90 houses affected

On October 23, a tornado traveled at least 147 kilometers between the Somme, the Belgian Hainaut, the north but also the Pas-de-Calais. In the latter department, gusts of up to 270 km/h crossed 20 kilometers, including the town of Bihucourt.

The tornado caused significant damage in this town, which was deprived of water and electricity for a while. A total of 90 houses have been affected by the weather, and 48 are completely uninhabitable. Between 150 and 200 inhabitants had to be rehoused.

“All the tiles are gone, in our main room, we no longer have a roof, we no longer have a bay window… Inside it has collapsed, there is glass wool everywhere”, a local resident had testified at the microphone of BFMTV.

Similar situation in Hautmont

The inhabitants therefore expected recognition of the state of natural disaster in light of all this damage. But already in 2008, a tornado had hit the town of Hautmont (north). Three people died, others were injured and many homes were damaged.

The state of natural disaster was recognized at the time, but only for mudslides and landslides, facts that were not taken into account in insurance contracts, according to the prefecture.

Hamza Ouarb with Marine Langlois

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