District coping with flooding

Damage from last week’s torrential rainfall is expected to be twice as bad as what was caused by last year’s wind storms but district residents are coping with the aftermath.
And picking up the pieces should be easier after Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Chris Hodgson on Friday declared the entire Rainy River District a disaster area, making residents eligible for funding under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP).
This declaration covers the 10 municipalities and unorganized areas in the district, as well as the Township of Ignace in Kenora District.
At Chapple’s council meeting last week, which had to be rescheduled for Thursday morning due to the bad weather, Fire Chief Larry Hunsperger outlined the extent of damage and suggested the municipality declare a state of emergency.
“Every road has some degree of damage, every bridge needs work,” he said. “We need an emergency plan.”
Chapple council didn’t go that far, but it did declare the township a disaster area in order to receive financial assistance under ODRAP.
“You’re looking at major expenditures,” Hunsperger remarked. “Every bridge is washed away. Our budget doesn’t cover this.”
Residents across the district offered assistance to those in need, as did towns to other towns.
“Fort Frances offered evacuation facilities and numerous other people called or came in to help,” said Chapple Clerk Doris Dyson.
In the meantime, most areas of the district are returning to normal.
“The water is down, the roads are looking good,” Chapple deputy clerk/treasurer Cheryl Hagen said yesterday. “[The crews] are working long hours.”
Alberton council discussed damage to their community during last Wednesday’s meeting.
“The roads are in good shape,” said Coun. Doug Mitchell. “[But] we might be changing some of the smaller culverts to the standard 18 inches.”
Plans for a weight room in the basement of the township building also have been put on hold because they fear future flooding could damage the equipment.
ODRAP is a source of financial aid for losses of essential private property, not covered by insurance, suffered by private homeowners, farmers, small businesses and non-profit organizations.
Guidelines call for the establishment of a local volunteer disaster relief committee to be appointed by the affected municipalities as soon as possible.
The committee will be responsible for settling eligible claims made by affected residents at up to 90 percent. The province has decided to waive the requirement of local fundraising in this circumstance.
Many townships in the district still haven’t disbanded their committees from last year, possibly allowing for faster processing of claims this time around.