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Grand Forks residents face growing frustration and financial anxiety

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It's been four months since the flooding in Grand Forks, but residents there have been left in limbo as they wait for answers from various levels of government. Jules Knox reports on the toll the floods are still taking on this community well after the waters have washed away – Sep 28, 2018

Flood victims in Grand Forks still face an uncertain future as they wait for answers about whether they will have to move.

The city has voted to buy out approximately 100 homes, but it depends on funding from the provincial and federal governments.

After flood waters receded from his home in North Ruckle, Duke Enns gutted and renovated his house.

He’s upset that officials didn’t tell him to stop sinking money into his home because a buyout could be on the way.

READ MORE: Grand Forks residents react to flood buyout plan

“The whole way through, there was always questions about should we be doing this? And at no point did anybody say ‘No, hold on, save it and see what happens,” he said.

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“It was like, ‘No, no, keep going, you’re doing good’.”

Enns estimates he spent $50,000 to $60,000 on building materials. He did the labour himself.

“I hope it’s not for nothing, because I kind of put my career on hold this whole year,” he said.

READ MORE: A long road to recovery in Grand Forks

Many victims of flooding now facing crippling financial anxiety, and it’s taking its toll, recovery operations manager Graham Watt said.

“There’s a 20 per cent increase in people visiting clinics who have emotional or health impacts that are caused because of the flood,” he said.

“Their children are maybe having behavioural problems show up at school, certainly there are people whose diet has been affected, people who have maybe started drinking more,” he said.

READ MORE: Grand Forks residents fight growing mould problem

People have come into the recovery team’s office crying because they don’t know what to do next, Watt said.

“Their family members are hurting, and the uncertainty is really painful.”

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READ MORE: Grand Forks homes uninhabitable, cleanup continues

The city is calling for compensation based on a home’s fair market value before the flood.

But residents are worried that even that money might not be enough to cover the cost of a new place to live in a city already facing a critical shortage of affordable housing.

READ MORE: Province to build 50 homes, 50 suites for flood-ravaged Grand Forks

“It’s a huge concern that most people have down here, is that whatever we’re compensated with is not going to be enough to get something that is even equal, “ Enns said.

“Everything down here in Ruckle is relatively cheap, and there’s not a lot of market for a cheap house in Grand Forks, so it’s a pretty tough situation,” he added.

READ MORE: Grand Forks residents unhappy with proposed flood plan: ‘I’m not prepared to move’

On Friday, it was announced the household emergency assistance program, which is administered by the Red Cross, has been extended for six months.

It gives residents up to $2850 a month in assistance.

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“It’s a breath of relief for people to hear that there is financial support, but there’s a lot of work to help get them what they need for their houses still,” Watt said.

The city estimates that it needs $3 million to house flood victims over the winter, Watt said.

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