CBRM feels 'urgency' to fix furnaces, get cheques to flood victims

An official with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is assuring residents displaced by the Thanksgiving storm that they will get more money soon.

Knocked out heating systems need to be replaced so people can stay home, says municipality

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality says some families have received $1,000 cheques already and will soon have another $1,000. Those families displaced after that first round of cheques will get $2,000. (Vaughan Merchant/Canadian Press)

An official with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is assuring residents displaced by the Thanksgiving storm that the wheels are in motion to get another round of cheques cut and delivered to families in need.

One displaced family said they'd received a $1,000 cheque two weeks ago, but hadn't seen or heard of any more financial aid.

Christina Lamey, executive assistant to the mayor, says officials are working to get another $1,000 to those who've received cheques already.

People who received no-occupancy orders since that round of cheques will receive $2,000 this time, she said.

Terry Drohan and his family escaped on an air mattress as the flood water almost completely submerged the first floor of their home on St. Peter's Road in Sydney, N.S. (CBC )

"The first round happened very quickly," she said. "Our feeling is that there's an urgency for these situations to be settled as soon as possible."

Lamey said each family is being contacted directly to make arrangements to deliver the cheques.

'It's a minimal amount'

About 30 homes are on a no-occupancy list, Lamey said. The majority are in Sydney, N.S, with some in nearby Glace Bay and one in New Waterford.

Terry Drohan and his family had to abandon their home. He said he received a call on Sunday confirming his cheque would be available on Monday.

"It was actually five minutes before a homeowners meeting in my area," he said.

"It's a minimal amount but it's appreciated. It's certainly not enough to cover our expense."

Fixing furnaces, heating systems

Another priority has been to get heat flowing through homes before winter, Lamey said.

"Shortly after the storm it became clear that a number of people, their home was generally OK," she said. "They pumped out the basements and everything but the heating system in the home was knocked out."

Floodwater may have been successfully removed from some homes but heating systems still remain broken. (CBC)

Lamey said that project has taken priority this past week to prevent more families from being displaced as temperatures drop.

"Those are very expensive systems to replace," she said. "For many people we can't wait for the disaster financial assistance program to go through that process."

Places to stay needed

Drohan said he and others  displaced by the flood are being told to find new places to live within a budget of about $1,000 per home, plus $150 for each family member.

​"In the early days of the disaster, we were told to just do whatever you have to do to find long-term accommodations," he said.

That message has since changed, he said, making things "extremely difficult."

"It's a bit of a concern because everyone involved here is trying to manage their days with insurance companies and inspectors and environmental agencies coming into our homes," Drohan said. "We are still actively looking for places to stay."

A tandem effort

Tackling the many problems at hand has become a tandem effort of many organizations and government departments. The Salvation Army, for example, is dealing with about 600 case files from "quite small things to medium to large things," Lamey said.

Inspectors still are out looking at homes but they don't expect to deliver more no-occupancy orders, she said.