New Brunswick

Province to ask independent consultant to review flood response

The government is promising to look into its response to last spring's flood along the St. John River and also offering help to people living in trailers while they wait for their homes to be repaired.

Province has received 1,105 applications for disaster relief

The province has received 1,105 requests for flood relief so far. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The government is promising to look into its response to last spring's flood along the St. John River and also offering help to people living in trailers while they wait for their homes to be repaired.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety announced Friday that an independent consultant will review the response to the record flood, which affected properties from the Fredericton area down to Saint John and the Kennebecasis Valley.

The report will later be made public.

Justice Minister Carl Urquhart said the consultant will seek input from a variety of sources, including communities, response agencies, and residents whose homes and properties were flooded.

"The review will cover flood planning and response, locally and provincially," Urquhart said. "It will look at everything we can do to learn to do a better job in the future.

Urquhart said the hiring of an independent consultant is key for the report.

"I want to know, instead of us standing around telling each other how good a job we did, I want somebody, an independent from the outside looking at it, telling us exactly our shortfalls, our strengths, what we can do for the next one," said Urquhart.

Residents living in trailers

The Hope-Rapp family has been living in a trailer for six months while the family farmhouse east of Fredericton is repaired and lifted. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Some residents along the river are still not in their homes and are living instead in trailers.

They say they're still awaiting aid that was promised from the province's Emergency Measures Organization.

"They gave us a very, very low offer at first," said Anna-Maria Hope-Rapp, who has been living in a camper in front of her home since the flood. 

"So we had to fight a little bit to get a larger amount. Because raising the house is costing us just about everything we've got."

Urquhart said with winter's arrival, anyone living outside their homes can ask the province for help.

Province can help

"They certainly have an opportunity at this time to say 'Look I can't stay here any longer, I need alternate accommodations,' and we're ready to put them in there directly," said Urquhart.

The department said that as of Friday, it has received 1,105 applications for disaster relief, 845 of which have been processed and paid out.

Private residences are eligible for up to $160,000 in assistance, while small-businesses and non-profits are eligible for up to $500,000.

People with cottages were eligible for help cleaning their properties but not for rebuilding.

With files from Shane Fowler

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