The GNWT will cover repair or replacement costs for homes in Dehcho and Sahtu communities damaged by spring flooding, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) said on June 28.

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The territorial government will pay all repair costs for private homes that serve as primary residences, to restore them to pre-disaster condition.

In the case of homes damaged beyond repair, the GNWT will replace them with basic manufactured homes, in accordance with household size. It could take from 20 days to three months to build them and Northern manufacturers would be contracted for their construction, said Laura Gareau, deputy minister with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) in a briefing with reporters.

The goal is to have all repairs completed by winter.

As part of the reconstruction effort, many homes will be raised to prevent future flood damage.

Home contents

Residents, community governments and small businesses affected by the floods can submit claims for lost or damaged personal belongings and essential contents.

Claims will be assessed to determine if the Disaster Assistance Policy (DAP) will cover them, to a maximum of 80 per cent, or up to $100,000.

Assistance will not apply if damage was already covered under insurance.

A cap was put on home contents coverage and not on structural repairs because the GNWT saw that most damage was to the homes themselves.

“Putting a cap on the repair side would put the onus on homeowners to decide where to do full repairs. That’s not the intent (of DAP). The intent is to repair to the pre-disaster condition,” Gareau said.

The GNWT will later seek reimbursement under federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA), said Gareau.

The territorial government has spent about $10 million in flood assistance thus far, with $5 million approved by the legislative assembly in May and June and another $5 million from existing departmental budgets, Gareau said.

Hunters and trappers whose equipment or cabins were damaged can contact the regional ENR office to inquire about assistance under the hunters and trappers disaster assistance program.

Almost 80 homes need repairs, 10 replacement

Damage assessments are complete in Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson, and Fort Good Hope, and assessments for private, primary homes in other communities are being scheduled. There was no damage identified to private homes in Aklavik. However, community infrastructure was damaged in the Beaufort Delta community.

In Jean Marie River, 16 to 18 homes require repairs, according to assessments thus far, ENR stated. Work is underway to set up a camp by late July where residents can stay while repairs are ongoing. The GNWT will continue to pay for hotel stays and camp supplies for displaced Jean Marie River residents.

In Fort Simpson, an estimated 70 private homes were damaged, of which 60 require repairs and 10 need replacement. Those 10 would be replaced with manufactured homes as it would be more economical to replace them than repair them. Four private homes were damaged in Little Buffalo River, near Fort Resolution.

In the case of residents who don’t want manufactured homes, MACA and ENR would work with them to find an acceptable solution.

Environmental assessments

Contractors and ENR staff will begin environmental assessments during the week of June 28, said Gareau.

Over an estimated period of about three weeks, the assessors will sample soil in communities such as Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson, where water and ice damaged fuel tanks and caused spills.

“They will help us better understand how far the fuel was carried,” Gareau said. “They will also provide us with cost estimates for remediation. Until we see their report, we won’t know the extent of contamination. We know there is no contamination of drinking water but we don’t have information on trees and soil yet.”

While the GNWT will prioritize local, regional and territorial contractors for repair work, residents can hire their own contractors and they should keep all receipts if they do so, Gareau said.

Individuals who spent their own money to evacuate flood-hit areas are encouraged to submit the full information in their claims for assessment.

Claim forms can be accessed online.

READ MORE: Disaster Financial Assistance

MACA Minister Shane Thompson said the GNWT aims to help residents, businesses and community governments return to their homes as soon as possible.

“This year’s floods were unprecedented, and that’s why we are meeting that challenge with assistance above-and-beyond what was offered in the past,” said Thompson. “If you need help getting assistance, get in touch – we’re here for you.”

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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