Province announces disaster relief for flood victims

A Disaster Financial Assistance program has been launched by the provincial government to help individuals, small businesses and municipalities cope with property damage from this year's spring freshet.

In a press release, the Department of Public Safety says this year's program will include increased advance payments to ensure residents can return to their homes as soon as possible.

Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart says, "To help those impacted by flooding, the provincial government promotes recovery through emergency housing and Red Cross help, free services from the government such as health and safety inspections and debris removal, and, today, a Disaster Financial Assistance program for affected property owners, including increased advance payments for affected property owners."

The government says it is also examining how future risks can be mitigated.

According to a press release, the program provides assistance for eligible damage and losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals, small businesses and municipalities.

The maximum assistance for structural repairs to private residences is $160,000 while the maximum for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations is $500,000 and assistance is not available for recreational properties.

In order to make a claim for financial assistance, damages must first be registered with Service New Brunswick, with the damage registration deadline set for June 15 and the Disaster Financial Assistance application deadline is August 30.

CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown reported on Twitter yesterday that advance payments of $15,000 are available, up from the $4,000 mark last year.

Government says advance payments may not exceed half the total estimated value of damages and may not exceed the $15,000.

The Department of Public Safety says buyouts are offered in cases where structural damages exceed 80% of the appraised value of the property, which in some instances may be more beneficial for both parties to avoid recurring costs from future flooding.

Claimants who refuse a buyout can sell dwellings on the property to government and keep the land or take a payout for repairs, but in both cases will not be eligible for future Disaster Financial Assistance programs.

Residents are advised to contact their insurance company first to determine if damage is already covered, and if the insurance is not covered under an insurance policy, contact the recovery team at the Department of Public Safety's Emergency Measures Organization so eligibility can be assessed.

Uninsurable losses or damage and cleaning debris on your property are examples of what can be claimed, while food loss is not eligible as it is an insurable loss.

The province has provided a Schedule of Loss that includes information on the maximum amounts provided to replace basic essentials such as furniture and appliances.

Over 10 years from 2008 to 2018, 13 natural disasters involving floods have occurred in the province with more than $284 million spent on disaster recovery activities.

(With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown)