Heathrow offers £25k for flood-stricken community groups

Heathrow Community Fund (HCF), a grant-making charity funded by Heathrow Airport, is offering £25,000 to help community groups recover from damage caused by local flooding.

The Fund aims to help voluntary organisations with donations towards the costs of replacing vital equipment damaged in the storms, especially where there is no help available from insurance or statutory funding. It could be damaged IT equipment, flooded community gardens or allotments, or furniture at a local community hall or youth group.

Caroline Nicholls, fund director, said, ‘Heathrow Community Fund has helped many local community groups with grants, donating GBP500,000 last year alone. We’re now concerned that so much of their good work will be destroyed by the floods. When the waters have subsided and these groups are counting the cost of the damage, Heathrow Community Fund may be able to help with a donation towards the expense.’

Organisations can apply for help through the fund’s Communities Together grant stream, with application forms available on the website www.heathrow.com/communityfund and other supporting documents.

Heathrow Community Fund offers its grants through three distinct streams: Communities for Youth, Communities for Tomorrow and the Communities Together scheme.

Communities for Youth offers grants for local groups including charities, voluntary groups and schools delivering projects related to education and economic regeneration. Communities for Tomorrow is intended to benefit communities affected by Heathrow’s operations, with grants focused on projects that help protect the environment or encourage sustainable development. The Communities Together scheme supports a wider range of smaller, community focused projects.

Heathrow Community Fund itself is funded by three sources – fines imposed on aircraft that breach noise limits, an annual donation from Heathrow and spare change from airport passengers.

Question marks over treatment of passengers on disrupted river cruises

Question marks have been raised over the treatment of passengers on river cruises that have been disrupted by the serious flooding in central Europe.

Travel-News.co.uk has received communication from a passenger booked on a June 5 Danube cruise with Viking River Cruises. In it, she is critical of the options that have been made available to passengers following the disruption to the trip that the flooding has caused. She also states that passengers were told that they would be travelling to Austria by coach, despite their misgivings over making the journey due to the current conditions. She was, however, more appreciative of the company’s initial arrangements for accommodation.

The passenger stated, ‘I’m currently one of 300 passengers of the June 5th Danube cruise in Budapest. Though Viking has done a nice job of lodging us at the Corinthia Hotel, it is not giving us ANY choices for refunds, rebooking or cancellations. There is a significant number of passengers unwilling to make the trip to Krems by coach and lodge in the Viking Freya, but the rep here says it will be OK. Don’t reproduce their PR line, it’s b******! Most of the passengers are senior citizens and are being cajoled into getting on a coach tomorrow morning to Austria even though it’s not safe to travel there.’

In its response to Travel-news.co.uk, Viking River cruises said, ‘We are sorry to hear that one of our passengers is not happy and would urge them to contact the UK office directly in order resolve the issue. Faced with this unprecedented situation, we are working hard to make alternative arrangements. All affected customers will be contacted upon return.’

Extended periods of very heavy rain are responsible for the swollen rivers and flooding that have been causing chaos across much of central Europe, including parts of Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Viking later added, ‘ We have received an update from our operations team in Europe and staff on the ground. To date 140 passengers have had to be relocated to the Corinthia Hotel and just a handful of passengers have enquired about returning home. We are continuing to monitor the situation.’


Europe’s floods cause travel cancellations

Extensive flooding across large areas of Central Europe is causing travel chaos and the cancellation of holiday bookings.

Following days of heavy rain, many of the rivers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary are dangerously high or have already broken their banks. River cruise companies have been the hardest hit, with US-based Viking River Cruises already having cancelled its June 9 sailings from Budapest to Nuremberg, and Passau to Budapest. Further cancellations and alterations to schedules are expected between June 5 and June 16.

In a statement, Viking commented, ‘In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. In every decision we make, the safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority.’

A number of other river cruise operators are also announcing cancellations, including Avalon Waterways, with three departures cancelled between now and June 14.

Flooding in Slovakia, particularly in its capital city, Bratislava, has prompted the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to issue a warning for travellers to the country, saying, ‘Some people may also experience disruption to travel plans as a result. Please check with your local operator for the latest information.’

The Czech Republic has also announced a nationwide state of emergency, with 3,000 people having to leave their homes, seven people having died, and the floodwaters yet to peak. Southern Germany has been badly impacted by the flooding, with the army called in to help. According to the BBC, water levels in the Bavarian town, Passau, are impassable and higher than at any time since the 16th century.


Travel advice: Heavy rains cause floods in Korea

We have received reports of heavy rains, floods and landslides affecting parts of the Korean peninsula

With more rain forecast in the coming days, flooding has restricted access to some highways and the transport infrastructure.

British nationals are advised to exercise caution when travelling outside, to comply with the instructions of the local authorities and to check news updates regularly.

The British Embassy in Seoul is currently operating a limited consular and business service. We ask that customers without an urgent need for consular assistance to please avoid coming to the Embassy before Monday August 1.