PEI

3 months after Dorian, repair and cleanup crews still facing backlog of work

Three months after post-tropical storm Dorian hit P.E.I., cleanup and repair crews say they're still dealing with a backlog of work — some of which will have to wait until spring. 

Government cleanup effort will continue in spring, 100 calls still to be answered

Some tree removal companies, like Branch Manager Tree Service, say they'll still be busy this winter cleaning up yards that suffered tree damage during Dorian. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Three months after post-tropical storm Dorian hit P.E.I., cleanup and repair crews say they're still dealing with a backlog of work — some of which will have to wait until spring. 

The Construction Association of P.E.I. says given the ongoing labour shortage in the industry, and how much damage Dorian caused, it's been impossible to keep up with the demand. 

"We're still hearing there's trouble finding roofers, finding contractors to do the necessary repairs," said Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I.

"With the winter conditions, it makes it that much more complicated because you have the colder weather, and ice conditions. Roofing is not the easiest thing to do in the dead of winter."

Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I., says given the labour shortage in the industry, it's been impossible to keep up with the demand for Dorian repair work. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

P.E.I. government crews are feeling that pinch too. Days after Dorian hit in September, the province started taking calls from Islanders in need of help removing trees and other debris. 

Since that time, the province says there have been 900 calls for help. Crews have been able to respond to 800 of them. 

"There's a few that are left and will probably have to wait until spring," said Bloyce Thompson, P.E.I.'s public safety minister. "It was a big powerful storm that caused a lot of damage."

Jeremy Arsenault, a foreman with Branch Manager Tree Service, says there are still '40-something' post-storm jobs that will have to wait until January, when the ground freezes. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Rainy fall slowed tree removal

Some tree removal companies said they've still got more post-storm work ahead of them as well. 

Jeremy Arsenault, with Branch Manager Tree Service, said his company has responded to "hundreds" of calls since Dorian hit, working long days to get to as many as possible. 

There's a lot of applications, and a lot of checks and balances to go through.— Bloyce Thompson, public safety minister

"But we figure there's 40-something jobs that we got to wait for the frost to set in to be able to drive the trucks around," said Arsenault.

"With all the rain we've had this fall, we've got to wait until January to get to some of the backyards."

'Going to be substantial' 

It could be months before many Islanders know just how much financial help they'll be getting for their repair efforts. 

This Friday marks the deadline for homeowners, businesses, and not-for-profit organizations to submit claims for uninsured storm damage through the Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Plan. 

Municipalities have up to four years to submit a claim.

Farming and aquaculture businesses have an additional two months to submit their claims. 

The P.E.I. government says its work crews have responded to 800 calls for debris cleanup help. It says there are another 100 calls that will have to wait until spring. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

So far, the P.E.I. government said it's received more than 60 applications. It's not clear how quickly they'll be reviewed, or when approved applicants can expect to receive money, but government said it expects the program to wrap up by March 2020.

"There's a lot of applications, and a lot of checks and balances to go through," said Thompson. 

The cost of the disaster funding will be shared by the provincial and federal governments. The public safety minister said it's tough to even estimate how much money will be dished out. 

"It's going to be substantial … millions, but that's just a ballpark."

More P.E.I. news

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said Friday was the last day for municipalities to submit a claim for financial assistance. In fact, municipalities have up to four years to submit a claim.
    Dec 13, 2019 12:23 PM AT

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