The NWT government says this year’s pledge to cover all repair costs for flooded homes won’t be repeated, in part because homes at risk are being raised and relocated.
Laura Gareau, the NWT’s deputy minister of municipal and community affairs, on Monday told reporters the risk of future flooding would affect how homes affected by this year’s floods are assessed and repaired.
The GNWT plans to raise and relocate homes that were severely damaged.
However, Gareau acknowledged the possibility that homeowners may oppose such relocation.
“We do envision working one-on-one with those homeowners to arrive at an acceptable solution,” she said.
“Part of the challenge is we know, or we suspect, that the homes that are damaged beyond repair are in the area where the flood damage was the worst – and we cannot rebuild in that location.
“If we were to rebuild in that same location and pay for it this year, and seek reimbursement under the federal program this year, we know that next year, if a similar flood occurs and that same structure was again damaged, we would not be able pay for any repairs or replacement of that home next year.”
Gareau said Fort Simpson is the only community with homes thought to be damaged beyond repair. Sixty of the 70 total damaged homes in Fort Simpson are expected to be repaired, according to the GNWT’s current estimates.
The remaining 10 homes are so badly damaged that an outright replacement – a “basic manufactured home,” the GNWT said – is thought to be more economical than repairing the original structure.
“The future flooding risk is very much driving the decision around raising homes. So we will be raising as many homes as we can. Right now, our assessment is that all of the homes in Fort Good Hope and Jean Marie River, and many homes in Fort Simpson, can be raised,” said Gareau.
The NWT government’s decision to bankroll repairs to homes this year raised questions about the role of home insurance, ordinarily relied upon by homeowners in similar circumstances.
The territorial government said it encourages residents to get flood insurance but added that was not an option for everyone.
Gareau said many residents in the Northwest Territories find flood insurance “difficult or impossible to receive.”
The NWT government said in a statement it plans to have repairs completed and residents returned to their homes before the onset of winter.
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