Derecho cleanup ongoing in Tudor and Cashel

·6 min read

At the July 5 meeting of Tudor and Cashel council, Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, submitted a report on the massive windstorm or derecho that hit Tudor and Cashel and surrounding areas on May 21. The effects are still being felt in the municipality, and Carrol outlined these in her report to council. Council instructed her to apply for the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance from the province of Ontario to help them cover the costs of the cleanup and to look into whether unmaintained roads in the township would be covered if the township crews undertook cleanup efforts on those roadways.

Carrol gave her report called “Windstorm 2022” in her capacity as the township’s CEMC to council at the July 5 meeting. She asked council to provide direction to apply for the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance from the province of Ontario.

“Whereas the corporation of the township of Tudor and Cashel recently experienced a derecho which caused mass numbers of felled trees and debris to block roads and destroy electrical and communications networks throughout the municipality on May 21, 2022 and has experienced incremental operating and capital costs,” she said in her report.

Carrol said after the council meeting that they had not officially applied, but they have 120 days from the date of the storm to do so.

“Council passed the resolution to move forward with preparing the application. We need to firm up our estimates for future costs before we send in our claims,” she says.

Mayor Libby Clarke and Councillor Roy Reeds had commented briefly on the lingering effects of the derecho to The Bancroft Times at the township’s Canada Day celebrations on July 1, noting that trees were still coming down all over the municipality, which was a potential fire hazard, hydro was going out intermittently and Reeds remarked that the lady in charge of the community gardens at the municipal office, Mary Fox, had her house badly damaged by the storm and that had temporarily stalled her community gardens initiative.

Carrol described more in detail some of the destructive effects of the derecho in her report, saying that extensive damage had been done to 59 kilometres of roads within the township, some 62 per cent of their roads network. She noted there was some damage to culverts during the cleanup, as well as roads and shoulders that will be added to the cost. She said that the contractor hired to do the grass cutting will also be cleaning up any debris along the shoulders and recording it separately. The bridge in Millbridge had damage to its guardrails and that damage has yet to be assessed.

A state of emergency was declared by the Emergency Control Group on May 22 and although access was restored to the roads, they were not safe for regular travel. Recognizing that external contractors and services would be needed to facilitate the cleanup, they were brought in. Several external contractors have been helping the municipal crews with the cleanup, like Richard Robinson Forest Products Ltd. Scott and Sons Logging, Faraday Forestry Services, Jason Beaudrie Logging Inc. and Plunkett’s Tree Removal. She says that Hydro One has also helped in the scheduling of the cleanup efforts.

Ontario municipalities can apply for Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance to help them recover from natural disasters like the derecho. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing activates this assistance in the event of a natural disaster, and the funding restores assets to their original state before the incident, not to improve upon them. If approved and eligible municipal costs reach the three per cent threshold of own purpose taxation levy, the province will cover 75 per cent while the township covers 25 per cent. If that three per cent levy is exceeded, any balance above that the province will cover 95 per cent while the township covers the remaining five per cent. According to Carrol, Tudor and Cashel has exceeded this three per cent threshold already, with costs of $160,830. The costs at three per cent would have been $39,969. Therefore, if the MDRA is approved, the Ontario government would be responsible for $9,992.25 of the first three per cent. Over and above that, the province would cover 95 per cent or $114, 817.95, if the grand total of Tudor and Cashel’s cleanup expenses stayed at $120,861 ($160,830-$39,969), which is unlikely considering there’s more cleanup to do. More information on the MDRA can be found at www.ontario.ca/guidelines-apply-disaster-recovery-assistance-mdra.

Carrol also asked council for direction on the potential impact of moving cleanup operations onto unmaintained roads for dangerous tree removal, which she estimated could cost about $100,000, although if the MDRA covers it, the township would only pay approximately $5,000.

Council was okay with going ahead with this if the province covered most of the cost, but Councillor Roy Reeds said the township couldn’t afford to fit the entire bill themselves, which the rest of council agreed with. Councillor Bob Bridger suggested having their Roads superintendent Glenn Hagerman check out these unmaintained roads’ damage and provide his expert opinion on a potential cost to fixing up the damage.

However, Hagerman said he and his department were already very busy and that their equipment could potentially and inadvertently cause damage to the roads and culverts. He also mentioned potential liability to the township for any damages they cause that could in turn lead to somebody on those roads getting injured or damaging their vehicles. Ultimately council instructed Carrol to ascertain if the MDCA will cover these unmaintained roads, and if so, they’d look at clearing any felled trees if the province was covering most of the cost.

On a side note, any non-municipal entities like homeowners, residential tenants, small owner-operated businesses, farmers and not-for-profit organizations can apply for the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians. More details on this program can be found at www.ontario.ca/page/apply-disaster-recovery-assistance.Carrol told The Bancroft Times on July 7 that she wasn’t sure how long the entire cleanup process will take, as they are still experiencing trees coming down as a result of the May 21 derecho.

“I expect that we will continue to have issues over the next year with regard to falling trees, especially once the snow comes and adds additional weight to those trees that are on the verge of falling,” she says. “There remains a large amount of brush along our roadways that needs to be cleaned up and I am not sure what the timeframe is for getting that all removed or chipped.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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