Perth-Andover residents react to the provincial government's proposal to relocate people or flood-proof homes in the village's low-lying areas
The New Brunswick government will pay up to $8 million to relocate or flood-proof low-lying homes in Perth-Andover that were hit by record flooding last spring, Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced on Tuesday.
Fitch made the announcement in the western village that was devastated by the March flooding.
The flood-mitigation measures are also being offered to homeowners in Tobique First Nation, Fitch said as some local residents looked on.
"There was no quick fix and no easy answers, and that is why we took the time required to properly evaluate the study provided by the Flood Mitigation Group," he said in a statement.
"We are now moving forward with action that will have a lasting impact on the safety of area residents."
Toll-free number to get information and to book appointments — 1-855-444-2654
Each property will be assessed individually, Fitch said.
A toll-free number has been set up to allow residents to get information and to book appointments, he said. Office space is also being set up at the Service New Brunswick centre at 1123 West Riverside Dr. to co-ordinate the government's efforts.
The relocation and flood-proofing measures come in addition to the nearly 200 claims for disaster financial assistance totalling $5 million that the provincial government processed and paid out in the weeks following the flood, Fitch said.
The new flood mitigation plan also includes $360,000 to backfill a low area of River Street and to construct a small levee on Pit Road to protect properties from future damage.
The provincial government will also spend $300,000 to update 800 metres of trail to allow emergency vehicles access to the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Perth-Andover when high water events occur.
In addition, $50,000 has been allocated for ice jam modelling.
Earlier this month, members of the flood victims committee had expressed frustration over the provincial government's lack of action on the matter.
Al McPhail, the committee chair, told CBC News everyone had already called for the relocation of the homes damaged by the high waters.
A report released on Aug. 31 estimated moving or flood-proofing Perth-Andover would cost the provincial government about $7.5 million, while similar measures in Tobique First Nation would cost about $700,000.
Future risk 'relatively high'
The review committee, made up of community, provincial and federal representatives, said it was "reasonable to consider relocation of the most seriously affected residences and to consider flood-proofing other affected properties."
The risk to Perth-Andover and Tobique First Nation is "relatively high," with a flood event occurring about every five years over the past decade, the committee said.
Flooding in March caused a state of emergency to be declared in Perth-Andover, with about one-third of the western village’s 1,770 residents being forced to leave their homes.
The flood level was roughly 1.5 metres higher than the last major flood in 1987.
A total of 83 residential properties were damaged. Of those, 11 have been, or will be demolished.
Several businesses were also damaged, along with the local hospital and high school.
The Tobique First Nation was also evacuated and residents were transported to safe locations.
The review committee also recommended further investigation into how the provincial government can improve its risk assessment of potential ice break-ups and enhance its monitoring and flood forecasting capacity to provide real-time flow and water level monitoring, movement and ice jam formation.
A follow-up report on three ice management options — ice control measures, ice growth suppression measures, and ice cutting and breaking measures — is expected in mid-October.
This is not the first time the provincial government has stepped in to buy homes of citizens who lived in flood-prone areas.
The New Brunswick government bought out the homes of 22 people following a series of floods across the province in 2010. The 22 homes, which were damaged beyond repair, met specified criteria set out by the government in the disaster financial assistance program.