Premier tours Mud Lake flood damage, vows 'to get to the bottom of this'
'I am not here to protect Nalcor, not at all,' Ball insists at public meeting
Premier Dwight Ball took to the skies today to see the damage caused by flooding in the Mud Lake area, while he got an earful about it on the ground as he vowed to figure out what caused the situation.
- In hot water: Mud Lake residents grill politicians, call for flooding investigation
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"We need to get to the bottom of this and we will," Ball told CBC News after the tour.
"The government will be there to support the people of Mud Lake and those impacted by last week's flood."
Ball, who is also minister of Labrador and aboriginal affairs, said while it was Monday before he got on the ground in the affected community, he was in "constant contact" with Environment Minister Eddie Joyce, MHA Perry Trimper and emergency services, and was involved in "lots and lots of meetings."
"We have a number of inspectors on the ground, looking at electrical services over there today. [Newfoundland and Labrador] Hydro is over there. We have people looking at the water systems, the sewer systems," Ball said.
"So these are people now ready to respond with answers. We have insurance adjusters that are ready to move in now once the assessments are done."
'We need to get to the bottom of this'
Many residents remain suspicious about the flooding and have called for an independent investigation, citing concerns that it's connected to the Muskrat Falls project upstream.
Ball said he "understands their concerns."
"If you've spent 60 years in those communities and you've never seen this before, I'd ask the same questions," he said.
"I'm not here today to basically come with the answers. I'm here to answer [resident's] questions, and I'm here to find out what happened and we're going to keep people accountable."
"I'm not going to put people's lives at risk because of a project," Ball said confronting concerns about Muskrat Falls. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnl?src=hash">#cbcnl</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCLabrador">@CBCLabrador</a> <a href="https://t.co/DjO0HKQmS7">pic.twitter.com/DjO0HKQmS7</a>—@JacobBarkerCBC
Ball said when it comes to the health and safety of residents, "we're not going to put that at risk."
"We need to put in preventative measures to prevent this from happening again," he said.
Nalcor officials have repeatedly insisted the company's operations are not to blame for the flooding.
Questions, accusations at meeting
Ball spoke with residents individually, before heading to a public meeting where applications for financial relief were available to residents — which seemingly ignited another firestorm.
"Motor vehicles and recreation vehicles are not covered," reads one section of the financial assistance form handed out at the meeting.
That left many residents, including Watson Rumbolt, fuming.
"I just bought a machine that was $20,000, a snowmobile ... I got a truck down there that was in under water. The thing is, will they be paying for these things?" he asked.
"I mean, 200 years of Mud Lake and one year of Muskrat [Falls] and we're flooded out," he said, as applause broke out.
One woman called on Ball to launch an independent investigation into the flooding.
"We don't want Nalcor involved ... We want the provincial government and the federal government to come in and tell us what happened," she said.
"We've got to include as many people as we can, independent of Nalcor and those folks," agreed Ball.
Ball said he would start that review process "as quickly as possible."
"I am not here to protect Nalcor, not at all."
With files from Jacob Barker