Disaster relief

Several municipal councils are seeking provincial funding by declaring their community a disaster area following the severe storms that hit the district July 31.
Fort Frances, Rainy River, La Vallee, and Morson municipal offices are gathering information to send to the province for funding as residents continue to recover from the damage caused by the storms.
In Devlin, where high winds tore down several barns, damaged a number of houses, and tore the roof off of the community hall, council voted unanimously to apply for the provincial relief.
“Right now I’m in the process of gathering information, getting people to call in or drop in with reports,” said La Vallee clerk Laurie Witherspoon.
“Right now we’re collecting all information, the total cost of damage caused, and the total cost insured.”
In Morson, where a storm earlier that day caused severe damage, Reeve Valerie Pizey and the rest of Lake of the Woods council voted unanimously last Tuesday to declare their municipality a disaster area and seek funding.
“We have just passed the motion to apply for it,” she said.
Because of a flooded section of Highway 621 leading into the community, residents there were without access to the rest of the district for several days.
“We are back in contact with the outside world but I’m still not happy with how the Ministry of Transportation handled things,” said Reeve Pizey.
In Rainy River, where the storm’s torrential rains flooded many basements with water and sewage, the mayor and councillors went door to door handing out application forms for assistance for losses after deciding to apply for disaster relief at a special council meeting Saturday.
In Fort Frances, where a number of homes also were flooded and some damaged by fallen tree limbs, council voted to apply for disaster relief during Monday night’s meeting.
Administration already had collected damage reports from residents, the Public Works department, and the fire department, among others, to include in the application.
“I apologize for its late timing but it took a lot of scrambling by a lot of people,” noted CAO Bill Naturkach. “But these give the details of the notices of damage.”
“I think we owe it to [residents] to attempt to do it,” said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
All municipalities had 14 days after the storm to apply for the funding, and all the money provided through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s Disaster Relief Assistance Program must be matched by them.
The damage covered by the program is only for uninsured items including restoration of residences or businesses, replacement of essential appliances, emergency expenses, and perishable food.