Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux says the Quebec government is ramping up efforts to inspect damaged homes and demystify the claims process for homeowners anxious to get repairs done.
"Citizens are worried about the delay, and I understand," Coiteux said at a news conference Tuesday.
"They lived a difficult drama and are eager to get a report of their inspection: 'Do I have a total loss? Can I do repairs?'" he said.
The minister said 90 more people have been hired to help pick up the pace of inspections.
Coiteux said his ministry is now issuing 500 inspection reports per week. By his estimates, that means homeowners whose properties have been inspected will receive their report within five weeks.
"Can it be faster? We are doing our best," he said.
Coiteux said inspectors had already visited 92 per cent of the homes that flooded. He said the ministry has been prioritizing the most complex cases it's received — those which face major repairs or are a total loss.
He said inspection reports are becoming easier to process as the ministry works its way down that priority list.
He also said offices will be set up in the Montreal area, in Rigaud and in Gatineau so that citizens can ask questions about flood compensation. No further details were made available about the location or opening date of these offices.
Monday's flood consultations
The news conference followed Monday's public consultations at 17 different locations across Quebec.
Flood victims at those consultations expressed frustration about the government's handling of their compensation claims and other matters in the aftermath of the spring floods.
In Pointe-Claire, about 600 people attended, and they were told about new "special intervention zones" in 211 Quebec municipalities considered at high risk of flooding.
In those areas, defined as vulnerable to flooding every zero to 20 years, a government order would forbid all new construction and severely restrict the rebuilding of houses damaged in the spring floods.
Coiteux said it's time to protect the population as climate change will continue to impact flooding in the province.
Push for prevention
Deux-Montagnes Mayor Denis Martin was also at Monday's consultation, advocating for prevention measures that would protect whole neighbourhoods.
"We're investing a lot of money in an area where now there's a flood zone that could be fixed by a dike," he said.
If people in Deux-Montagnes can't rebuild, he fears the city will be left to manage a slew of vacant lots.
"That's a lot of land that would have to be taken care of," he said.
"We need a dyke.. to start thinking about protecting everybody," said Ryder.
He estimates that a green dike made from giant boulders and a watertight membrane about 10 feet high would do the trick.
"If they don't build a dike," he said. "Nobody will want to buy here."