Cape Breton flood victims get financial boost from GoFundMe

Individual GoFundMe campaigns are helping Cape Breton flood victims get back on their feet.

'I'll never ever live long enough to thank everybody for their help'

Anna Mae Muise lost almost everything she owned in the Thanksgiving Day flood. (Ellen Penny )

Thousands of dollars are pouring in to help victims of the Thanksgiving Day flood in Cape Breton, but the money isn't yet flowing from the province's disaster financial assistance program, it's coming from donations to individual GoFundMe campaigns.

Anna Mae Muise lost almost everything she owned when her Sydney bungalow filled with filthy floodwater. Her insurance wouldn't cover the damage to her home.

Muise's daughter set up a GoFundMe campaign. As of Tuesday morning it has raised $24,915.

Muise lost everything stored in her basement when floodwaters filled her home last month. (Ellen Penny)

"I was really surprised and overwhelmed because I'm of the age I didn't even know what a GoFundMe page was," said Muise. "It has just been so heartwarming, I'll never ever live long enough to thank everybody for their help."

Some money already handed out

GoFundMe is the fundraising website that allows people to solicit donations from the public. People post their story on the site, generally set a financial goal and ask people to help them reach it. GoFundMe charges fees on donations that total about eight percent.

Homeowners are turning to the site as they wait for the Nova Scotia government to process disaster financial assistance claims. The Emergency Management Office isn't sure how long that will take.

A spokeswoman said staff are working as fast as they can and additional resources have been added to speed up the work. The program will pay out a maximum of $200,000 per household.

Numerous homes were so damaged by floodwaters that people are not allowed to return. (CBC)

The province has already donated $500,000 to the United Way of Cape Breton, which distributes the money to flood victims. In the meantime, people who lost their homes continue to get money from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for temporary accommodations.

Musie isn't sure exactly how much money she might get from the disaster assistance fund, nor is it clear when it will arrive.

Wind ripped the roof and part of the wall off Marcella Angelo's Glace Bay home. (Michelle Szatkowski)

"If I'm going to get that place back to the way it was on Oct. 9 then I'm going to need every nickel of that GoFundMe account."

Right now Muise is renting a mostly furnished apartment, and so far she's only used the GoFundMe money to buy a box spring and mattress.

'I don't have to worry about rent for a while' 

In Glace Bay, 80-year-old Marcella Angelo is also feeling the love. She said her home is a writeoff after the roof and part of a wall were ripped away by high winds that accompanied the storm.

Marcella Angelo says the storm hit on her 80th birthday. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

As of Tuesday morning, Angelo's GoFundMe page has raised $3,250 to help her weather the loss of her home of 57 years.

"That's for rent and food and stuff like that," said Angelo. "It's a great help because I don't have to worry about rent for awhile." 

'All of a sudden you got nothing'

In the short term Angelo is renting an apartment with her sister. She's trying to come to grips with moving from a neighbourhood where she spent her entire life.

"It's a long process, you don't just get over something like this in a hurry — you know all of a sudden you got your home — and then all of a sudden you got nothing," said Angelo. "It's devastating."

In the long term she hopes she'll get some money from the disaster assistance fund to move into a small two-bedroom house with her sister.

Marcella Angelo's bathroom now has an unobstructed water view. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)