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Province announces $147M in disaster funding for northern Alberta residents affected by floods

$147M in disaster funding for northern Alberta residents affected by floods
Residents in northern Alberta devastated by flooding will be getting money to rebuild. Provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon shares the details.

The provincial government has announced $147 million in funding for residents who are rebuilding from damage caused by flooding in northern Alberta.

Premier Jason Kenney said Friday afternoon the money will help families, businesses and communities recover and rebuild from flooding in both the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Mackenzie County.

The money comes from the province’s Disaster Recovery Program, which will provide financial support to residents and business owners for uninsurable damages, as well as help restore municipal infrastructure.

Homeowners, tenants, small businesses and agricultural operations are eligible to apply for funding, the province said.

Those who are eligible can use the online application portal and submit their application beginning on May 11. To apply, or for more information on Disaster Recovery Programs and approvals, visit the government’s website.

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READ MORE: Fort McMurray cleans up from flood on anniversary of 2016 wildfire evacuation

About 13,500 residents were forced from their homes last month due to flooding in the Fort McMurray region and in Mackenzie County.

Kenney said Friday that more than 3,000 people remain out of their uninhabitable homes in the RMWB.

Kenney announces emergency funding for northern communities affected by flooding
Kenney announces emergency funding for northern communities affected by flooding

RMWB Mayor Don Scott was pleased with the funding announcement.

“This is great news in support of our community and the people and businesses impacted by this historic flood,” he said in a statement.

“While we are just beginning our path to recovery, this commitment from the province demonstrates how Albertans always come together to help each other during challenging times.”

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Scott said he also recognizes that there are challenges ahead and the hard work is just getting started, but added the community has persevered before and will do so again.

“I know that while this important funding announcement from Premier Kenney and the province will go a long way, there is no perfect in recovery as this community knows as well as any given what we’ve been through together in recent years,” he said.

“We look forward to working with our provincial and other partners to release more details on how this will help you recover in the days ahead. This is a great step in the right direction.

“For now, stay strong, stay safe and stay together. Take care of each other.”

In an update later Friday, the RMWB said ATCO has made significant progress in restoring utilities to homes.

Officials said residents whose homes did not experience overland flooding in the dry zone can go back home if they haven’t already. The RMWB said residents who live in the dry zone need to transition out of the accommodations they were provided with by Monday.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s dry zone map. Friday, May 8, 2020.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s dry zone map. Friday, May 8, 2020. Courtesy, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric continue to energize properties in the dry zone, but officials said homeowners need to be on hand to to allow access to do this.

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Residents in flood-affected areas are asked to visit their properties and follow the instructions to bring utilities back online. Information on how to restore utilities in both the dry zone and flood-impacted areas can be found on the RMWB website.

READ MORE: Fort Vermilion residents return home after flood evacuation orders lifted

Flooding in the Fort Vermilion area, which forced about 450 people from their homes, was caused by an ice jam on the Peace River. Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu said damages in this region are pegged at $45 million. However, he said officials are still in the assessment stage, so that number could change.

The funding announced Friday is on top of $8 million in emergency payments provided so far to about 7,500 evacuees to help cover food and shelter costs after they were forced from their homes, Kenney said.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney announces emergency funding for northern Alberta flood evacuees

Kenney said he plans to visit Fort Vermilion on Monday to survey the damage and meet with residents in person.

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Canadian Red Cross announces funding for Fort McMurray evacuees

In additional to the provincial funding, the Canadian Red Cross announced Friday it will provide $600 to every household in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area that was under a mandatory evacuation order due to the flooding.

“The flooding that occurred in the Fort McMurray area is devastating, especially for people still recovering from the wildfires that impacted the same region four years ago,” Jenn McManus, vice-president of Canadian Red Cross in Alberta and Northwest Territories, said in a media release.

“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, this assistance will help meet some immediate needs as people begin to recover from this disaster.”

People who registered with the Canadian Red Cross and were under mandatory evacuation from their primary residence in Fort McMurray and area due to the flooding will receive one payment per household to help meet their re-entry needs.

Residents who were evacuated and have not registered with the Red Cross are encouraged to call 1-800-863-6582.