GNWT commits to repair, replace homes in flood impacted communities

Flooding in Jean-Marie River. (Supplied by Tyrone Sanguez.)
- Advertisement -

The GNWT says it will pay for all the repairs to people’s homes impacted by flooding or replace homes that can’t be repaired.

Record-high water levels saw flooding impact a number of rural communities, with communities like Fort Simpson and Jean-Marie River being impacted particularly hard.

In Fort Simpson, the estimate is that 70 private homes were damaged and that 60 require repair and 10 require replacement, with some assessments still taking place.

In Jean-Marie River, 16 to 18 homes need repairs.

- Advertisement -

In Little Buffalo River, four private residences were damaged.

Laura Gareau, deputy minister for Municipal and Community Affairs, says the GNWT is still conducting damage assessments in other communities and some of the numbers may change.

“We want everyone to submit a claim so we can better understand their circumstances,” says Laura Gareau.

Gareau said the highest cost of repairs she has seen is $150,000. She added the GNWT hopes to hire multiple different contractors, but won’t know certainly what the total cost will be until those contractors are hired. 

That process is beginning, with contractors set to be on the ground around mid-July.

- Advertisement -

The GNWT will also cover essential house items that were damaged or lost during the flooding. The maximum payout is up to 80 per cent of the estimated costs or $100,000. 

All residents and community governments and small businesses are eligible to receive funding.

Gareau said the limits are in place because the Disaster Assistance Program — the program which receives federal subsidizing and is used to cover damage costs during a natural disaster — is not intended as an insurance or compensation program, it’s intended as an assistance program.

Residents won’t get their repairs covered by the territorial government if they have access to other sources of funding or insurance, or if they could reasonably have had access to insurance

- Advertisement -

Gareau added the GNWT decided against cash payouts, because it would have put undue onus on residents to coordinate contractors. Although, communities and residents who have hired contractors to do work already can have those costs reimbursed.

Hunters and trappers with cabins or equipment which were damaged can also contact their regional Environment and Natural Resources office to discuss the hunters and trappers disaster assistance program.

Gareau said the Disaster Assistance Policy had been employed a number of times in the past, most recently in Nahanni Butte in 2012.

The contracting process has begun, with contractors set to arrive in the communities around mid-July. Gareau says the goal is to have all repairs and rebuilds done before winter. MACA will pay for accommodations for residents 

Gareau said she didn’t anticipate any problems in having the repairs done by winter, saying accessing contractors and supplies shouldn’t be an issue.

“The biggest challenge is the unknown, we don’t have all the damage assessments in from Fort Simpson,” said Gareau. “We don’t know what we will encounter with contractors on the ground and 

There isn’t currently a timeline for when the houses that need relocating will have that work completed

Gareau added the GNWT is working on waivers so residents can permit the territorial government to conduct the repairs and has a consultation process going if residents have disputes about the total cost of repairs outlined in the GNWT’s damage assessments.

- Advertisement -