The NWT government will pay for all repairs to homes affected by this spring’s floods, including the acquisition of entire replacement homes if the damage to existing buildings is too severe.
Monday’s announcement comes after weeks in which residents expressed confusion over the extent of the financial support available and how to access that cash.
Initially, the NWT government rolled out an emergency fund that would have provided up to $100,000 per individual claim.
While that fund remains in place, the territory now says it will also “pay for and coordinate repairs to restore private, primary homes to pre-disaster condition.”
The NWT Housing Corporation is already responsible for the restoration of public housing. The NWT government took care to specify that only primary homes – those where people ordinarily live, rather than second homes – are included.
According to the territory’s damage assessments, 16 to 18 homes in Jean Marie River need repairs. Seventy private homes in Fort Simpson were damaged, of which the GNWT believes 60 can be repaired but 10 must be replaced outright. The territory said that number was “still being verified.”
Four private homes in the South Slave’s Little Buffalo River were also damaged.
“The GNWT will cover all costs to bring homes back to pre-disaster condition,” the territory said in Monday’s news release, promising to do so before the return of cold weather. “For private, primary homes damaged beyond repair, the GNWT will replace the home with basic manufactured homes suited to the household size.”
That’s a one-year-only offer, the territory said, given the scale of flooding that primarily hit the Dehcho region in the past two months.
Shane Thompson, who recently replaced Paulie Chinna as the NWT’s minister of municipal and community affairs, said in a statement: “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.”
The territory said it was hiring “qualified local, regional, or territorial contractors to get all repairs or replacements done right away.” While there is no fixed timeline for the work, the GNWT said “we know we need to get the work done immediately during our short construction season and get people back home more quickly.”
The initial offer of up to $100,000 per resident for costs not covered by other insurance – under the NWT’s federally backed Disaster Assistance Policy – still stands, on top of the new offer to cover all repair costs or, if necessary, replace the home.
That money can now be used to replace lost or damaged essential items, the NWT government said. The claim form is available online.
“Everyone negatively impacted by the flood should submit a claim. Claims need to be assessed to see if the Disaster Assistance Policy may be able to fill the gap,” said the territorial government.
“All residents, community governments, and small businesses are eligible. Hunters and trappers with cabins or equipment which were damaged should contact their regional Environment and Natural Resources office to discuss the hunters and trappers disaster assistance program.”
Meanwhile, the GNWT said staff and contractors were this week assessing environmental damage in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River – work expected to be completed by the end of July.
“The GNWT is working with Jean Marie River to get an in-community camp set up for residents affected by the floods so they can stay in-community as repairs are completed,” the territory said on Monday.
“An in-community camp is expected to be established by the end of July. The GNWT is continuing to pay for hotel stays and camp supplies for Jean Marie River residents displaced in the meantime.”