Manitoba bolsters flood relief claim process

The Manitoba government is promising to address complaints from some victims of last year's flood who are still awaiting compensation.

The Manitoba government is promising to address complaints from some victims of last year's flood who are still awaiting compensation.

The government says it is dealing with 30,000 flood claims — triple the number filed after the so-called flood of the century in 1997.

Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton says the province is hiring eight more appraisers and 14 other staff to help process claims.

"Last year's flood is not yet over for a lot of families. Many Manitobans still can't go back to their homes," said Ashton.

"This is the largest recovery effort Manitoba has taken on since 1950 and it's going to be a multi-year process. These new staff will help keep things moving forward and join the more than 100 people already working to process claims for flood-affected families."

Ashton also announced help for municipalities.

"We know the past year has been a challenging one for municipalities as they work to rebuild. But we will be there to work with them, each step of the way," said Ashton. 

New assistance includes:

  • A new, one-time grant for a municipal tax credit to relieve some of the financial burden on municipalities in flood-damaged regions including Alonsa, Ochre River, Siglunes, St. Laurent, Grahamdale, Coldwell and Lawrence.
  • A new commitment to cover 90 per cent of the $1.7-million cost for the City of Brandon's flood preparation work done in advance of the 2011 flood.  

The latter is roughly double the original commitment made by the province.

The government is also giving seven smaller municipalities one-time grants to help their rebuldling efforts.

As well, other flood-proofing initiatives include:

  • Completing the $13.2-million Ralls Island community flood-protection project near The Pas.
  • Funding for a $30-million Community Flood Protection Program
  • Engineering inspections of emergency and temporary dikes in the rural municipalities of Coldwell, East St. Paul, Grahamdale, Siglunes, St. Clements, St. Laurent and West St. Paul, and Duck Bay, Melita, Souris, Waterhen, Wawanesa and Winnipegosis.

Budget 2012 includes $50 million towards repairing flood-damaged roads and bridges across the province, Ashton said, adding that Manitoba recently spent $1.5 million to repair Highway 229 after it was closed for almost a year due to the record flood level of the Shoal Lakes.

The roadway was raised approximately one metre to exceed record flood levels seen last summer.

The province has also worked to restore flood-fighting equipment inventories to ensure they are available in the event of future floods including flood tubes and Aquadams, pumps and hoses for flood-response trailers and more than two million sandbags.

The province also spent $1.2 million this year for a new enhanced Amphibex icebreaking machine to add to its ice-jam mitigation fleet.

The 2011 flood recovery is expected to cost $1 billion.