A month after the devastating flood that impacted New Brunswick’s Saint John River Valley, residents are still in the process of applying for flood relief funding.
Maugerville, N.B. resident Bonny Harvey says the process to register and all the paperwork is extremely complex and frustrating.
Harvey said she first registered for the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance Program on May 11. After waiting almost a month with no word on when an inspector might be coming to her home, Harvey said she decided to follow up.
“When I called on June 2, they told me that I was registered, I had a reference number, I’d had the package mailed out, but the reason why I hadn’t been inspected was nobody moved me onto the inspection list for some reason,” Harvey said.
She said she helped her mother-in-law register, who also experienced the same problem.
“After some digging, it appears that anybody who registered on May 11 wasn’t put in the system to be inspected,” Harvey said. “So people that have been waiting, they don’t even know you exist.
“It is incredibly frustrating that people did what they were instructed to do — by following the steps of registration — and somehow we were missed even though we did everything on our end. Nothing can move forward in the application process until you’ve had that inspection done,” Harvey added.
Within hours of her call on June 2, she said an inspector called her and came out the next day to do the five-point inspection required to move forward with the process.
From there she said they made recommendations for her to fill out the claim.
After making a list of questions to ask officials, Harvey visited the Emergency Measures Organization’s pop-up site at the Maugerville Community Centre on Friday.
“It was the first time I got real answers to anything in the process,” Harvey said.
They walked her through “step by step, question by question” what needed to be filled out and what she needed from her insurance claims.
Harvey said she was “quite disappointed” to find out about the $1000 deductible.
“A family has to make less than $25,000 in order to qualify to waive the deductible, which is quite low. That’s going to be a hardship for a lot of people who have for the last five-six weeks been utilizing their own money to deal with getting back into their own homes,” Harvey said.
“Now they’re going to have to pay a $1,000 deductible in order to even apply for the disaster assistance, so that’s going to be a barrier for a lot of people.”
Instructions given to Harvey state that claims must be filed within 90 days. She said it was unclear exactly when that 90-day time period starts.
“On the paperwork for disaster assistance, it says you must file this within 90 days. So I clarified that, asking if that’s from the time I registered, or from the time I received my package, or from the time I do my application. It turns out that 90-day deadline that’s written on the application is 90 days from the time of the start of the disaster. So that dates back to April 27,” Harvey said.
According to a news release put out by the province on Friday, more community offices will be opening next week to assist people with the process.
New Brunswick’s Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry said the province is committed to helping residents.
“Some communities need a longer-term solution to make sure people get the help they need,”Landry said.
A community liaison officer will be available at the Maugerville Community Centre starting Monday, until further notice, to help residents get through the process.
Global News will follow up with the province’s Emergency Measures Organization on Monday when government offices reopen.