Timeline to replace flood victims' homes in Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River pushed to 2022

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Flooding in Jean Marie River in May 2021. The territory had promised replacement homes for people before the winter, but has now pushed that timeline back to early 2022. (Paul Thunder-Stealer/Facebook - image credit)
Flooding in Jean Marie River in May 2021. The territory had promised replacement homes for people before the winter, but has now pushed that timeline back to early 2022. (Paul Thunder-Stealer/Facebook - image credit)

People who lost homes during spring flooding in the N.W.T. communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River will now have to wait until early 2022 for those residences to be replaced.

The timeline was pushed back, according to a statement issued Friday afternoon by Shane Thompson, the territory's minister of municipal and community affairs, because "more time is needed" to deliver on customizations that meet residents' long term needs.

"Residents were offered options, and they have agreed that this is the way forward," he said.

Thompson said the territorial government would continue to provide temporary housing for those who are still waiting, until their homes are delivered and installed.

Historic flooding forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes in both communities, as well as in Hay River, Fort Good Hope, Little Buffalo River near Fort Resolution and Aklavik in May.

The territorial government announced in June that it would replace private homes damaged beyond repair with basic manufactured homes, and raise or relocate homes to prevent flood damage in the future.

Its previous stated goal was to have people in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River back into their homes by winter.

And for some people, that is still expected to ring true. In Friday's update, Thompson said repairs — not replacements — in both communities are on track to be finished in November or earlier.

In Fort Good Hope,Thompson said he's "confident" repairs will be finished in November despite delays caused by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

"Recovering from this disaster was never going to be easy," said Thompson. "Our territory offers challenges that just don't exist elsewhere. And with any construction project, come challenges that need to be managed and often this means shifting timelines."

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