By Chris Pickup

Haldimand Council passed a resolution Monday night asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to activate the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program (DRAO) to aid homeowners stricken by the October 31 storm.

Councillor John Metcalfe said he had seen some of the devastation and ”hopefully something can be done for these people”.

CAO Craig Manley told council public works personnel were out all night monitoring the situation and moving debris. Several bridges were undermined by significant flooding, cemetery headstones toppled and trees down.

The largest damage was to Lakeshore road where county workers laboured all weekend to temporarily repair the road surface to enable access preparatory to a permanent repair next year.

Manley said the province operates two disaster assistance programs, one for the municipality and the other for residents to help offset costs of sudden and unexpected natural disasters.

The Municipal Disaster Assistance Recovery Program covers capital costs in essential services such as health, safety and access issues. It Is activated by the province and requires a municipal resolution. The municipality can only apply if they reach a cost of 3 percent of the operating budget, which is $2 million in Haldimand’s case.

The county would have to pay all costs up front but if the province deems the damage is significant enough they would reimburse 75% up to $2 million and beyond that, 95%. The program would only pay for items not covered by insurance.  

County staff are tracking costs through a special account.

The private property assistance program, Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarions,  requires homeowners to apply directly to the province, with no municipal role. It is intended to return essential property to its basic function, including septic systems. However, it is only for the primary home and basic contents, and does not cover landscaping, driveways, fencing, retaining walls or erosion control measures. Seasonal homeowners are out of luck entirely.

Homeowners must go through their insurance first, and maximum coverage is $250,000, with a 90% limit. The decision is made entirely by the province, on a case by case basis and depends on the number of requests from the public, whether the municipality has applied, and an investigation of the level of damage.

Details of how to apply are posted on the county’s website. Residents are also encouraged to contact MPP Toby Barrett.

The county has also waived tipping fees at the Canborough transfer station for affected residents to bring debris, tree limbs and construction waste from clean-up activities until November 30.