Hundreds still living in hotels months after homes were damaged by floods
Published Tuesday, September 12, 2017 12:32PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017 10:59PM EDT
Four months after thousands of buildings were damaged by floods, many victims say they feel abandoned as they wait for agents to inspect their homes.
Many claimants said they have grown frustrated by their dealings with government claim agents, saying they are often asked to send the same documents in over and over again.
Victims also said they have found it difficult to reach individual agents by telephone.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said Tuesday the government is taking steps to make it better, including by making almost 100 more agents available in the areas where people live.
"We realize that there are improvements that can be made and should be made. And instead of staying like this and saying everything is perfect and we have nothing to change, we admit that things aren't perfect and need to be improved. We are acting," said Coiteux, who said the extent of the disaster left resources at all levels overwhelmed.
Widespread flooding happened along the Ottawa River, the St. Lawrence, and other bodies of water in the spring.
Of the 5,900 claims made for provincial assistance, only 3,100 have been reviewed so far.
While the provincial government expects the total figure for disaster relief will hit $350 million, so far it has distributed $35 million.
"The government is not alone in this process. The government's got to work with municipalities," said Coiteux.
"Even though great efforts have been made by the government -- as almost 100 new agents were added to meet the multiple demands -- it is now obvious that we need to do more,” he said. "Those affected by the floods aren't well-informed of the next steps and get confused sometimes in the process with the different levels of government involved."
There are currently 278 families still living in hotels because their homes are too severely damaged, and while the province doesn’t have exact numbers, they believe there are just as many living temporarily with relatives or at rental properties.
Many people are hoping basic repairs can be completed before it gets colder and their homes risk being further damaged by snow, cold, and ice.
With files from The Canadian Press