Windstorm Sabine causes extensive damage to forests and property

Photo: ČTK/Luboš Pavlíček

The damage wrought by windstorm Sabine which swept through the Czech Republic at the start of the week with a force of 180 kilometers per hour in places are expected to reach millions of crowns.

Photo: ČTK/Luboš Pavlíček
Insurance companies say people in the western parts of the country, which were hit by the storm early on Monday, have already started filing insurance claims for damaged roofs, cars and greenhouses, to the tune of tens of millions of crowns, but they expect that claims will really start pouring in when the wind definitely subsides in all parts of the country and people and companies start taking stock of the damage.

At the present time, emergency services and firefighters are still helping to clear up the worst of the damage and regional labour offices have informed mayors they are ready to send community workers to help out in the worst affected areas. Social and labour offices are also ready to help people who have been left in dire financial straits due to the storm. One-off emergency aid in the event of natural disasters can reach up to 50,000 crowns. Whether or not people are insured is not relevant as long as they can prove they are experiencing material hardship.

According to preliminary estimates the wind storm Sabine damaged around one million cubic metres of forests in state ownership. Lesy ČR, a state-owned company which manages close to half of the country’s forests, said that the worst damage was evident in areas where extensive logging had taken place due to bark-beetle infestation. An accurate damage estimate will only be possible when the wind subsides and foresters can go in to assess the extent of the damage and the amount of logging that will need to be done.

Similarly electricity providers and road and rail operators are still in the process of repairing damages to the infrastructure and have yet to provide a cost estimate. Electricity providers called a state of emergency in ten out of fourteen regions after thousands of households were left without power and Czech Railways was forced to cancel numerous train connections and refund money for tickets due to trees blocking rail tracks in various parts of the country.

The damage caused by past windstorms passed the billion crown mark. The storm Kyrill, which swept through the country in 2007, caused damages to the tune of 2.2 billion crowns, while Herwart, which hit in 2017, cost 1.5 billion crowns.