Ontario makes funds available for Muskoka residents affected by flooding
‘I saw first-hand how the flooding affected communities and it just broke my heart,’ premier says
Residents in Bracebridge and Huntsville affected by flooding will be able to apply for provincial disaster recovery assistance, the Ontario government announced Friday, as high water levels are receding.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said it has extended the program to those central Ontario communities — earlier this week it activated the program in the Renfrew County and Pembroke in eastern Ontario.
It applies to primary residences and their basic contents, as well as to small businesses, farms and not-for-profit organizations, so damages to cottages or other secondary residences would not qualify.
The program helps cover emergency expenses and the costs to repair or replace essential property that aren't covered by insurance after a natural disaster.
The Canadian Red Cross also announced financial assistance of up to $600 for households affected by flooding in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford met Friday with the mayors of Muskoka Lakes and Bracebridge to discuss the flooding after giving an Ontario Chamber of Commerce speech.
"All the crews and volunteers that I've seen, working tirelessly to help everyone affected in this flooding region — these people are the best of Ontario," he said in the speech. Ford visited affected areas last week.
"I saw first-hand how the flooding affected communities and it just broke my heart. You see the water coming into their basements, you see the sand bags around their cottages and you just can't imagine, unless it's happened to you, the damage water does."
Ford said he will set up a task force to look at flood prevention, starting mid-next week.
"We are going to sit down with a group of stakeholders, [to examine] how we can come up with better ways at controlling the water system, because we can't be facing this," he said.
"They say it's every 100 years — it doesn't seem like every 100 years. It seems like it's been happening constantly."
The Town of Bracebridge says water levels in the Muskoka River are receding, but are still higher than normal.
"We've been through a heck of a ride over the last couple of weeks," said Mayor Graydon Smith. "I'm happy to say that it's getting a little bit better...I hope we're going to see some sunnier days ahead, literally and figuratively, to help dry things up and make things better."