Fredericton family displaced by flooding hoping for more help from Red Cross
A Fredericton family is worried about where they’ll live next week after their emergency housing support runs out.
Amanda Kennedy and her family were displaced from their Riverside Drive home in April and have been receiving support from the Red Cross since the beginning of May, but now they say their time has run out and they’re being forced to check out of their hotel on July 16.
Kennedy said she, her husband, their two children, their nephew and father in-law and two cats were living in a rental home and said they are grateful for everything the Red Cross has done for them so far, but they now feel stuck and unsure of what to do.
“They were really good, every week somebody would call and say ‘how are things, how’s this going, have you made any progress doing this or that’, but right now Wednesday, last Wednesday and they said you haven’t made any progress in three weeks, your hotel has been extended until the 16th so you can stay til then but after that you’re done,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is a home care worker but said the stress of being homeless caused her to go on stress leave.
She said until recently she’s been unable to find a rental home large enough to accommodate the whole family. The family is also on the list for public housing.
She said the Red Cross has been a huge help and if it weren’t for their assistance they would have been homeless months ago, but she said the family has been making progress and has found a home for August 1 if they can come up with half of the damage deposit by next week.
But Kennedy said even if they are able to pay the deposit they still won’t have anywhere to live for two weeks.
“Being told I haven’t made any progress really kind of stung because I have really actually done everything that I thought that I could.” said Kennedy.
“If there’s something that they think I haven’t done, you know, let me know, because I will do anything that I need to do to be not dependent on the Red Cross or to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.”
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New Brunswick Red Cross Provincial Director Bill Lawlor said he can’t comment on specific cases, but said once a family has evacuated and registered with the Red Cross right from the moment of impact they start working with the family and provide regular assessments of their situations to determine the best plan for the coming days or weeks.
“We continually go through that assessment process, particularly when it’s a situation where families are trying to determine where they’re going to go if they’re home, whether they were a homeowner or a renter, has been heavily damaged or destroyed,” Lawlor said.
He said they continually work with displaced families to determine next steps to help people get out of hotels or emergency accommodation situations and into a primary residence.
He said if people who were renting cannot go back to their home, it is the responsibility of the family to figure out where they’re going to find another suitable rental for their family.
“We are certainly experiencing some individual families who have had a challenge finding another comparable unit within the same community in which they were living prior to the flood,” Lawlor said.
He said that could be a delay on homeowners being able to secure contractors because of the volume of cases and work that’s out there due to the floods.
“If a clear plan is presented on ‘here’s what I’m looking to do’ then absolutely on a case-by-case basis there has been a situation where extensions have been provided,” he said.
“That would not be a certainly a short term plan in most cases, that would be a vert long-term plan if someone was looking to hopefully avail themselves of a public housing unit.”
The Department of Social Development spokesperson Erin Illsley says in the aftermath of a natural disaster or fire, the Red Cross helps people affected by providing emergency social services, which include temporary housing, clothing and food.
Illsley says an assessment is done to determine the needs of those involved and Social Development will work with eligible families to find a longer-term solution.
“If they register with the department for public housing then every effort is made to try to find the appropriate housing for the family in question as quickly as possible based on assessed need and available housing, and other factors that impact the ability to offer housing,” Illsley said. “If, however, it is a larger family unit then finding a rental becomes more difficult.”
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