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Mayor Williams seeking disaster relief funds for local flood victims

August 18, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams is leading a charge to secure provincial funding for area residents affected by flooding this summer.

Several parts of the community were hit hard when approximately 110 millimetres of rain was dropped over a three-hour period on June 23. Described at the time as a “once in 100 years” flood by the mayor, several roads across town were closed for hours as the municipality’s drainage system failed to keep up with the deluge.

And if that first storm wasn’t enough, another, albeit smaller, system dumped in excess of 80 millimetres of rain on the community on August 1, with an incredible 72.6 millimetres coming down in just one hour that afternoon. Municipal drainage systems were again overwhelmed and flooding occurred at several locations throughout town.

One glance on social media indicated the damage, at least for private homeowners, was substantial. Numerous residents shared devastating stories of how their home or business had been flooded, some for the second time this summer.

After the Ministry of Municipal Affairs announced on Aug. 3 that private property owners in Grand Valley and Mono would be eligible for provincial disaster relief dollars, Mayor Williams sprang into action, determined to secure funds for those affected in Orangeville.

“The amount of rain that came down in Orangeville, first on June 23 and again on August 1, was crazy. The flooding that we saw as a result was unlike anything I’ve seen before in Orangeville,” Mayor Williams said. “Because of that rain, because of the flooding, a lot of our residents were heavily impacted. We’re seeing and hearing about a lot of different individual losses.”

The Town released an online form on Tuesday (Aug. 15) where residents can submit information related to damages incurred in either of the two floods. The form asks for a name and address, confirmation that damage occurred due to rainfall on either June 23 or August 1, what damages were done, whether your property is residential or business and whether or not you had to be evacuated from the property due to flooding.

So far, Mayor Williams says he has received 22 submissions from locals affected by the floods. One of those, he says, is a local business that was actually hit by both flooding events, completely destroying the property’s basement on both occasions. Damages were estimated to be $120,000.

“And that’s just one story,” Mayor Williams said. “I know there’s more out there. There’s a lot more out there. On my street alone I know of three families who were impacted severely. I’m talking furnace gone, washer gone, dryer gone, entire basements destroyed. I haven’t heard from either of those people yet, so I know there are people out there.”

Similarly to Mono and Grand Valley, Orangeville is looking to tap into the Province’s Disaster Assistance for Ontarians program, which is designed to help residents and business owners recover costs related to cleaning, repairing and replacing essential equipment and property after a natural disaster. Mayor Williams says he has spoken about the situation with Municipal Housing Minister Bill Munro, who offered encouragement that provincial dollars could potentially be forthcoming.

“I’ve spoken to ministry staff and Minister Munro, who assured me they will seriously consider the impact of our flooding. It’s important that residents share how these flood events impacted them in order for the Province to make a decision as to if they will help us,” Mayor Williams said. “I know that when people suffer a disaster like this, they just deal with it, either through insurance or otherwise. People don’t realize there could be funds available.”

He added, “That’s why we need people to let us know how bad these floods were for them and how much damage they did to their property. The information gathered will be used to show the ministry the extent of the damage. Ultimately the decision rests in Minister Munro’s hands, but he personally assured me in Ottawa today (Aug. 15) that his ministry staff will do what they can.”

Should the Ministry decide to extend the Disaster Assistance for Ontarians program to Orangeville, residents would then have to apply for funding through the provincial government. To fill out the Town’s damage report form online, visit orangeville.ca/flood-damage-form. For additional information, call 519-941-0440 ext. 2244.

         

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