The newly formed Southend Lost Homes Coalition of Sydney wants clarity surrounding compensation for inhabitable homes and is urging a speedier recovery process after members lost everything in the flood on Thanksgiving Day.
The 17 homeowners in the group have agreed to allow their houses to be demolished and the entire area declared a no-development zone by the municipality.
That agreement, however, came with the understanding that they would be supported in finding or building new homes, but spokesman Terry Drohan said that support has been slow in coming.
Many of the homeowners are staying in hotels paid for by donations collected by the United Way, he said, but some have been told they soon have to find alternate accommodation.
Anxiety and stress
"That put, on top of all the other anxieties of losing your home and contents, a lot of extra stress on the homeowners in our area," said Drohan. "We really need some of the additional financial support to kick in to try to help us in locating other places to live."
The provincial government is administering a disaster relief fund based largely on information collected by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in the days following the flood.
Drohan said while the homeowners wait for the money start flowing, they're also waiting for clarity.
"We haven't had anybody communicate how our properties are going to be assessed, what the value of that property's going to be, what the timeline is before we proceed and of course, everything relies on that. We're completely in limbo."
'We're all completely devastated'
Drohan said no one is trying "to get ahead here."
"We're all completely devastated and we're just hoping to not end up losing out too much," he said. "We want to establish a home that's comfortable, that is similar to the homes that we're signing off on. Everyone's different, but certainly we want to be able to replace our homes and our contents as close to what we had before the disaster."
In the meantime, said Drohan, everything they need to do to move forward costs them. For example, he said he is hiring a home inspector at a cost of $460 to look at a house he might purchase.
"Everybody's just draining their bank accounts and their line of credit," he said.
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Many people are straining to get by on an emergency allotment of $1,000, Drohan said.
"Just simple things like toothpaste and socks. I mean, I was able to take a boat into my property the following day after the water subsided and picked out a bag of clothes and basically, that's what I'm living out of in my hotel room," he said.