N.W.T. will pay all housing repair costs for flood victims without insurance

·3 min read
Fort Simpson at the height of the 2021 spring flood. (Submitted by Jonathan Antoine - image credit)
Fort Simpson at the height of the 2021 spring flood. (Submitted by Jonathan Antoine - image credit)

The Northwest Territories government will cover all housing repair costs for flood victims that don't have their own insurance plans.

Laura Gareau, the N.W.T.'s deputy minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, told reporters their goal is to get people back in their homes before winter.

"It's been a difficult and trying time for people, and many just want their repairs done so they can start on their recovery process," she said.

In May, historic flooding forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes in Hay River, Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson, Fort Good Hope, Little Buffalo River near Fort Resolution, and Aklavik. Some are still living in hotel rooms while they wait on repairs.

The territory will be getting the money to repair homes from the Disaster Assistance Policy, which offers either 80 per cent of the total cost of structural repairs or up to $100,000 dollars for those that do not have their own home insurance.

That funding cap is being removed for this year's 2021 flood season, so those without insurance will have the full value of their damage assessment paid for by the N.W.T. government.

Under this policy, victims can also file claims for any essential items they might have lost in the floods. The territory won't be lifting the funding cap for those claims.

Gareau still encourages people to submit insurance claims first, if they can.

At least 90 homes in need of repair

In terms of homes needing repairs or replacement, so far the territory estimates there are 70 homes in Fort Simpson, between 16 to18 homes in Jean Marie River and four in Little Buffalo River. No homes were damaged in Aklavik.

Of these, 10 need full replacement in Fort Simpson, though the assessments aren't done yet.

Gareau said the department's seen damages worth between $40,000 and $150,000 so far. Households can hire their own contractors to get faster repairs, she continued. Receipts should be kept in those cases, so victims can be reimbursed.

Affected residents will get copies of their damage assessments by July 18.

For the homes damaged "beyond repair," the territory says they will be replaced with manufactured ones that are the right size for each family. They will be hiring local companies to do the work.

Other homes will be raised higher off the ground to limit future flooding, while other homes might be relocated.

In-community camp in Jean Marie to be set up

Since May 31, the N.W.T. government says in Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson and Fort Good Hope some urgent repairs, like removing wet drywall and insulation from the affected homes.

In Jean Marie, where all homes need repairs, the territory will set up a in-community camp before the end of July for about 40 people who are still displaced, so they can stay nearby while the repairs are being done.

There are no other places to stay available in town, she said. In Fort Simpson, there's no need for a camp.

$10 million spent on flood relief so far

Gareau said the territory has spent $10 million to date on flood relief efforts, including $5 million approved by the N.W.T. Legislature last month to cover the costs of the immediate aftermath.

The other half is the total costs from all departments so far for the flood relief, including the assessment work being done by the N.W.T. Housing Corporation.

Gareau said the government has an estimate for how much the 2021 spring flood will ultimately cost them, but said she cannot disclose that number as things might change.

The territory will be putting in a request for federal assistance.

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