Town awaiting ministry help

As the Town of Fort Frances waits for an appointed Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs rep to set up office here to receive claims for damages incurred during last week’s storms, details aren’t clear yet as to exactly what procedure local residents should follow.
“We’ve got some leads on locations and that sort of thing but for the time being, I really can’t say anything else,” said Darryl Allan, the town’s manager of Administration and Finance.
But he did note the ministry’s office will be open for about six months, during which time residents from the district—not just Fort Frances—can file their claims.
Ministry rep Ian Millett was expected to be in town sometime yesterday.
The town itself also will be assessing the expenses involved in addressing last week’s storms and requesting assistance.
Just last month, the town received $28,989.70 from the ministry for 100 percent of the eligible costs for public damages under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program that were incurred during last July’s storms.
The claim was made in January.
Meanwhile, council agreed at a special meeting Monday night to accept the ministry’s declaration of Fort Frances—and the entire district—as a disaster area.
“It’s a very good thing to do,” said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon. “All kinds of people don’t have insurance to cover this sort of thing because of the frequency of flooding claims here.”
Larry Cousineau of Cousineau Brokers Inc. here also said he was pleased to see the ministry take action. “This is great for people that don’t have insurance, or a certain kind of insurance, like for flooding,” he noted.
“We’re very happy there’s relief. There is a lot of people who are in trouble without this,” Cousineau added.
He noted his office has been flooded with insurance claims in the past week. “There’s been a lot of them—over 100. Ninety percent have been sewer backups, but there’s the odd wind or hail damage,” Cousineau said.
“But I don’t think the claims will be quite as high as last year, on an individual basis,” he remarked. “I’ve found people have been more prepared, like having a pump to empty their basement.
“The clients, you might say, have been very good and that makes the insurance companies very happy.”
Gillons’ Insurance was contacted for comment but could not respond before press time.
The ministry declared the district as a disaster area on Friday. This covers the 10 municipalities and unorganized areas in the district, including Fort Frances, as well as the Township of Ignace in Kenora District.
The 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. Allan noted this has not yet been struck up as various district municipalities have not officially accepted the disaster status.
The province decided to waive the requirement of local fundraising in this circumstance.
Special assistance also will be provided to all 11 municipalities to cover up to 100 percent of eligible costs associated with rebuilding infrastructure that was damaged.
Besides Fort Frances and Ignace, the 11 also include Alberton, Atikokan, Chapple, Dawson, Emo, La Vallee, Lake of the Woods, Morley, and Rainy River.
The district last was declared a disaster area in October, 2001 following the vicious storms of July 31.

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