Sioux Lookout residents eligible to apply to DRAO program
Tim Brody - Editor
The province of Ontario announced on the morning of June 9 that it was activating the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program in Rainy River District and parts of Kenora District in Northwestern Ontario.
The Activation Area includes communities such as: the Municipality of Sioux Lookout and other communities including the City of Dryden, City of Kenora, Municipality of Red Lake and the Township of Ignace.
The province shared, “The disaster assistance program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Following a natural disaster, it may provide assistance for basic emergency and clean up expenses and the costs to repair or replace essential property not covered by insurance.”
The province clarified, “Residents with no insurance coverage or whose insurance coverage is insufficient to cover essential costs have until October 7, 2022, to apply for assistance through the program.”
To find out more about applying for disaster recovery assistance, people can visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-disaster-recovery-assistance
People in the activation area can apply to the DRAO program at https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-disaster-recovery-assistance#section-2
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance said of the designation, “I would call that great news and what a relief for so many people.”
Lawrance said he hopes the program is robust and can help people impacted by localized flooding in the community recover.
He reiterated that the Municipality had been advocating to have the Municipality declared a flood area for weeks. “Once we realized it (the rising water) wasn’t stopping, staff were on the call to the ministry trying to get that activation order on a consistent basis and very relieved to see it happen.”
Lawrance had written a letter to the deputy minister two weeks ago requesting assistance.
The Municipality had provided evidence of the flooding to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).
The ministry informed that, according to Environment Canada, “Northwestern Ontario has seen 312 per cent more precipitation in April and May 2022 compared to last year,” which combined with snowmelt caused widespread flooding in several municipalities and unincorporated areas in the region.
In a June 8 news release, the Municipality of Sioux Lookout had advised residents to consider the following information to prepare for the possibility of applying for the DRAO:
1. Contact your insurance company – if you have insurance coverage for flooding, you can file a claim. Any damages not covered by your insurer MAY be eligible for funding under the DRAO program. All questions regarding eligibility under the DRAO program should be directed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. If you do not have insurance coverage for flooding, you should still contact your insurance company and request a “letter of denial” to demonstrate to the province that your insurance will not cover any of the damages you suffered.
2. Learn more about the DRAO program – please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-disaster-recovery-assistance
Municipal CAO Michelle Larose shared in the release, “We will continue to accept photos and descriptions of areas impacted by flooding, to further document the impact and to assist in our efforts to implement significant flood mitigation strategies for future flooding events.”
The Municipality advised that as the waters recede, there will be a lot of clean up to be done in the community. “Clean up efforts will be done in phases, as the water recedes and exposes debris and damage. Plans are currently being developed to clean up debris on Municipal property, including beaches, walking paths, and streets,” the Municipality of Sioux Lookout informed.
“To further assist residents with clean-up efforts, the Municipality will be providing impacted residents with cards to use at the landfill to dispose of waste resulting from the flooding and making arrangements for the collection of sandbags from those who required them to help mitigate flooding, once they are no longer needed to protect their properties,” Lawrance explained in the news release. “Details on these supports will be communicated to the public in the coming days,” Lawrance concluded.
“We want to help those who have been impacted by the flood in whatever way we can and having free access to the landfill is certainly one of those ways,” Lawrance shared.
“Property owners who have suffered damage to their principal residence or business may still contact the Municipality to share their information at 737-2700 from 8:00-4:30, Monday to Friday. You may also email photos and details of your flood damages to [email protected],” the Municipality advised.
“The Municipality is diligently documenting all Municipal costs associated with repairs and mitigation responses to the flood, in the event that we may become eligible for a different stream of provincial disaster recovery funding, which is targeted to municipalities that have incurred infrastructure damage. At this time, we continue to build on our estimates as to the costs to repair infrastructure affected by the flooding. The full extent of damages cannot be fully assessed until the flood waters have receded,” the Municipality informed.
Lawrance said that by declaring a state of municipal emergency, the Corporation of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout can then apply to Municipal Affairs and Housing through a separate stream which is for Municipalities to try and recover costs associated with flood. “There are rules set out, you have to spend, I think it’s three percent of your operational budget before you are eligible for any assistance. We’re certainly tracking that. With the roadwork we’ve done, whether it be Lakeshore (Drive), Tower Hill (Road), or Five Mile boat launch and other areas, we’ve spent a lot of money on materials and equipment time, labour time, etcetera, the Wellington Street issue there, so we’re tracking all that and we’ll see where we end up. We’re certainly into hundreds of thousands of dollars… what’s eligible is what’s above and beyond that. You don’t get anything back on the first three percent,” Lawrance informed.
Lawrance, who has been tracking water levels at his Lakeshore Drive residence along the shore of Pelican Lake, observed, “On May 16, when it (rising water) hit my fixed dock level, I started measuring. From May 16 to about two weeks ago it went up 24 and one quarter inches… this morning (May 10), it is about six and a half, seven inches lower than the high water level, which I think we achieved about one week ago.”
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