Several Hay River and area flood victims still without homes as temperatures drop

Many residents of the Hay River and surrounding areas continue to be displaced as homes undergo repairs. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Many residents of the Hay River and surrounding areas continue to be displaced as homes undergo repairs. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Flooding recovery is still underway in Kátł'odeeche First Nation (KFN) and the Hay River area, and as winter sets in many residents are not back home.

Historic flooding in May wrecked homes, businesses and infrastructure with the territorial government predicting it will cost at least $174 million to repair. Most of that price tag is expected to be covered by the federal government but officials say those living in the area are still managing the trauma.

Town of Hay River
Town of Hay River

"We all lost something, we all were hurt," said KFN Chief April Martel.

Sometimes, Martel said, she still watches videos from the flood to remind herself what happened.

"It's really traumatizing."

She said many of her members are still living in a hotel while their houses undergo repairs.

"A lot of them aren't going to be in their home for Christmas," she said. "My heart just breaks when that happens."

Despite the town losing 27 homes, Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) has found a place for everyone to stay.

"Everybody's warm," she said.

The same is true for residents of West Point First Nation who, likewise, are still out of their homes since the spring flooding.

The First Nation has been considering relocating entirely since its community was destroyed during the ice breakup and anticipates severe flooding to be re-occurring for future breakup seasons.

Carla Ulrich/CBC
Carla Ulrich/CBC

Wendy Ross, who works at the West Point First Nation band office, said she feels for the elders in particular who want to be back in their homes.

Ross said that relocation is still on the table but that members haven't decided where they'd go.

Feds expected to foot flooding bill

Under federal disaster funding, Public Safety Canada is expected to reimburse the territory for 90 per cent of the Hay River's eligible costs, and 100 per cent of KFN's.

That's because as a reserve, the first nation is eligible for different federal emergency funding.

Eligible costs include replacing homes, repairing infrastructure and supporting the evacuation that took place in the spring.

Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada
Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada

Repairs for West Point First Nation and Enterprise are included in the territory's estimated $174 million and would be reimbursed under the same funding stream that will pay back 90 per cent of claims to Hay River.

A spokesperson for the federal department said Public Safety Canada is still working with the territory to create legislation that would declare the flood an eligible disaster. If that legislation goes through, the territory will be reimbursed.

The department did not respond to when that decision would be made prior to publication deadline.

A spokesperson for MACA said that the territory would reimburse recovery costs not covered by the federal government.