New Brunswick

Family that lost home to flood is asked to leave emergency shelter

Members of a Fredericton family have about a week to find a place to stay after the Red Cross said it can no longer provide them with emergency shelter at the Best Western Hotel.

Red Cross says it's families' responsibility, especially if they're tenants, to find place as soon as possible

Amanda Kennedy said she's been doing her best to find a new place to stay, but the Red Cross has asked her and her family to leave the emergency accommodations at the Best Western Hotel by July 16. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

Six members of a Fredericton family have about a week to find a place to stay after the Red Cross said it can no longer provide them with emergency shelter at the Best Western Hotel.

Amanda Kennedy said she and her two children, her husband, elderly father-in-law, and nephew have found it difficult to find a place after their rented house on Riverside Drive was destroyed by floodwaters in late April.

"We've been looking since pretty much the day it happened," she said, recalling having to grab whatever she could in 30 minutes when the St. John River rose quickly and to record levels. 

"I'm on Kijiji constantly, Facebook, or calling [realtors]," she said. Of the adults in the family, she has been the only one able to work recently, but she's not employed now.

"I can't afford $1,200, $1,600, $1,700, nothing included."

Red Cross provincial director Bill Lawlor said he can't comment on a particular family's situation but said it is the families' responsibility to find places to live as soon as possible, especially if they're tenants and not homeowners.

The 102 people still staying at different emergency shelters have all been able to prove to the Red Cross that they need more time to either fix up their homes or arrange to live with other people.

Hotel life is fun for a week, and then you just want to be home.'- Amanda Kennedy

Lawlor said if people are not given an end date, they may become dependent.

"We've had individual families who have been in commercial accommodations for up to a year," he said.

"[There's] a real fine balance between providing emergency assistance … providing some support to the transition of their own family recovery, and then the balance of creating dependency, where individual families are not necessarily taking the necessary steps."

Not home

Kennedy said she's worried about what will happen on July 16, when she and her family have to leave, but she's "very grateful" for the help the Red Cross has provided them so far.

She said people get the wrong idea about staying at hotels.

"Hotel life is fun for a week and then you just want to be home," she said.

She's staying in a two-bedroom suite with her 13-year old son, 18-year-old daughter, 18-year-old nephew, her husband and her father-in-law, who has been staying with the family after having a stroke. The family also has two cats.

An aerial shot of the flooding in Fredericton's downtown this spring. (Patrick Morrell/CBC )

Her husband, Brian, said he hasn't been able to work as a welder because he also suffered a stroke. He said he's waiting to get disability assistance.

Amanda said that before the flood and a little bit after, she worked as an in-home care worker, but the stress of being displaced caused her doctor to recommend stress leave. She's been applying for unemployment insurance.

She said the family is also on a public housing list.

Anne Mooers, spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said the department has been working with people who were displaced by the floods.

"If, however, it is a larger family unit, then finding a home or apartment can become more challenging," she said in a statement.

She could not comment on specific cases, citing privacy.

Not sure what to do

Amanda Kennedy said she's put her Jeep up for sale, and so has her husband.

For now, she said, they'll keep looking for a place and hope they find one before they have to move out on July 16.

"I'm very emotional, and just saying, like, that's it, we're done, the 16th that's it, sent me through a loop. So I'm not sure what we're supposed to do or what I'm supposed to do because I'm not working. I have no income."