• James Armstrong

Financial aid program for flood victims unveiled in Rigaud


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Hit by flooding in 2017 and 2019, homeowners like Sandra Piening of Rigaud, are faced with applying for financial aid again.

Residents of Pointe-Fortune, Rigaud, and Hudson had two opportunities to attend the presentation of the Quebec Ministry of Public Security’s new financial aid program for flood victims on Wednesday, May 29 in Rigaud. The presentations, entirely in French, were held at Sainte-Madeleine Church in the afternoon and evening. Approximately 150 people who attended the evening event were informed the financial aid did not cover everything and was last resort assistance to ensure the safety of people and the return to normal life. The financial aid program does not apply to damage covered by property owner insurance.

Streamlining the process

The program is available to homeowners, businesses, and agricultural enterprises affected by the 2019 spring floods. According to the presentation, the application process has been streamlined and the indemnity paid out for specific household items such as refrigerators or stoves are predetermined. Although receipts for replacing household items are not required, applicants were encouraged to take photographs of damaged goods.

A team of representatives from the Ministry of Public Security was on hand to assist people with their individual applications. At the end of the presentation, questions were asked about ongoing files from the 2017 flood event and if it was necessary to start the application process again.

Claims from 2017

For Rigaud resident Sandra Piening, the frustration of having to open another file for flood damage compensation was an important issue. Piening’s home was damaged in the 2017 flood event.

“They promised to raise the foundation of my house,” Piening told The Journal on Thursday, May 30. “I’m still waiting to hear back about that situation. I’ve sent emails and telephoned.”

For Piening and others with outstanding claims from 2017, the application process begins again.

“I was happy to find out the application was available in English and better organized than it was in 2017,” she said. Unfortunately, this year’s flood has increased the damage to the unrepaired foundation of her home. For Piening and many others, facing the prospect of going through the process again is exhausting. “They’ve dropped the amount to be covered – now it’s only 90 per cent,” she added, “but they did promise it would move quickly.”

The program also offers homeowners affected by the flood the option of a buyout pegged at $200,000. Piening pointed out that might not be feasible for people living on a fixed income with a mortgage. “They could easily end up with nothing,” she said.

Long term planning

Several citizens raised the issue of long term planning and solutions to dealing with what appears to be a recurring flood event. Although their concerns were noted, they were told the meeting was not the appropriate context to discuss those points.

Safely returning home

Information for safely returning to a home affected by flooding was also presented relating to the dangers of electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, and contaminated sources of drinking water. Representatives from various government agencies including Hydro Québec were available to respond to individual situations. Homeowners with private wells were told to consider their water source as not potable if in a flooded area. Ten days after the floodwater recedes, the well must be disinfected and the water tested before it can be consumed again.

Directives on how to deal with and prevent the development of mold, the proper cleaning of utensils that come in contact with the mouth and the disposal of food items were also presented.

The emotional and mental health and wellbeing of people affected by the flooding was also addressed. In cases of stress, anxiety, and worry, people were encouraged to contact Info-Santé at 811 or consult a doctor.

Full details of the presentation are available on the Ministry of Public Security website at www.securitepublique.gouv.qc.ca.

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