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N.L. residents can soon apply for $30M Fiona relief fund, officials say

Click to play video: 'Storm Fiona: Trudeau visits displaced residents of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador'
Storm Fiona: Trudeau visits displaced residents of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited on Wednesday the town of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador that was devastated by storm Fiona. Accompanied by Premier Andrew Furey, provincial Liberal MPs Gudie Hutchings and Seamus O'Regan, Trudeau met with residents affected by the storm, first responders helping with cleanup efforts and municipal leaders – Sep 28, 2022

Newfoundland residents who lost homes or property during post-tropical storm Fiona can soon apply to a $30-million provincial relief program, but officials acknowledged Wednesday that the funding likely won’t cover the full extent of need.

The province is open to making more money available as the true financial impact and range of need become more clear, Premier Andrew Furey told reporters at the town council office in Port aux Basques, N.L., a community in southwestern Newfoundland where dozens of homes were destroyed by Saturday’s storm and one woman died after being swept into the sea

“We understand that this may not touch everybody, but it’s an attempt to get money into people’s pockets who need it the most in this time of distress,” Furey said.

Read more: Storm Fiona: Mendicino says Tories pushed ‘false info’ with ArriveCan border questions

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Residents must apply to the program through the Canadian Red Cross, and Furey said the funds will be available as early as Monday to help people who lack insurance or need swift assistance while their claims are being assessed. He encouraged people who slip through the cracks to contact a provincial helpline and explain their situation.

Meanwhile, residents of southwestern Newfoundland continued Wednesday to dig though the rubble of their former homes, anxiously awaiting information about whether insurance would cover their losses. Many are wondering where they will stay for the long-term, after their homes were ripped from their foundations and in some cases washed away.

While the true number of displaced residents isn’t yet known, Furey said the province is aware of 75 displaced households in Port aux Basques and more than a dozen in surrounding communities.

Through the relief program, the government said $1,000 would be available for every household whose members were temporarily evacuated but are able to return home by Sept. 30. Displaced households whose members cannot return by Sept. 30 are eligible for $10,000.

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Furey said $500,000 will go to the Red Cross to assist people with relocation and other personal needs. Another $500,000 will be split among affected communities. Any extra money will go toward rebuilding efforts, the premier added, though he noted that the work would take time and require co-ordination among levels of government and affected residents.

The rebuilding process will also take into consideration the likelihood of more frequent intense storms in the future, Furey said, as well as the wishes of many residents who are now fearful of rebuilding or moving back into homes so close to the coast.

Click to play video: 'Storm Fiona: Trudeau applauds resilience, promises help during visit to Cape Breton'
Storm Fiona: Trudeau applauds resilience, promises help during visit to Cape Breton

Later Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to visit Port aux Basques to witness the damage firsthand. The prime minister travelled to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia on Tuesday to survey the destruction left by Fiona in those provinces.

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Furey said he would like Trudeau to know that Ottawa “needs to be here with financial support” after the storm, which has been “devastating” for people on the southwest coast.

The Canadian Armed Forces were on the ground in Newfoundland Wednesday doing wellness checks and visiting some small communities along the coast that have been isolated and without cellphone service since Saturday’s storm.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

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