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Selinger announces flood compensation program

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The Manitoba government announced a $175-million program to compensate those hit by this spring's flood — and then protect them from future floods.

The program is to start immediately and will see provincial staff knocking on doors in the areas hardest hit to spread the word on how the new The Building and Recovery Action Plan will work.

"From the time of application, we expect to flow support to people within a matter of weeks," Premier Greg Selinger said.

Officials estimate about $60 million to $70 million of the total number will go towards compensating property owners, farmers and business owners for their losses.

It includes a special program to pay 100 per cent of incurred costs from flood protection measures, damages and evacuation costs, like lost wages, for all property owners in the Hoop and Holler Bend controlled release and for those living on either side of the Portage Diversion, to restore properties to pre-flood conditions.

"It sounds pretty reasonable to me," said area resident Mitch Thibodeau Tuesday as he pumped seepage water out of his basement.

"So far, I haven’t seen a lot of damage," he added. "We’ve been pretty lucky. I guess we didn’t get hit as bad as we could have."

The plan also includes money — up to 90 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $20,000 — for cottagers on Lake Manitoba who want to move or raise their cottagers because of high water levels.

"By them giving the cottagers money, they have admitted they were wrong," Twin Lakes Beach cottager Alice Dent said. "They take full responsibility."

Financial assistance will also be provided to families with cottages for repairs to structural damage. A 10 per cent co-payment will be applied up to a total provincial contribution of $90,000.

Money for families with rented or owned year-round homes on Lake Manitoba will be covered for actual expenses incurred to protect property to a maximum of $10,000, plus reasonable expenses for restoring property to its original condition. Support will be available with a reduced copayment of 10 per cent, down from 20 per cent, to a maximum of $200,000.

Selinger also said the program will see new protection works like additional dikes, improvements to the Shellmouth reservoir near Russell and looking at how to better manage future flooding in Brandon, protecting it to a 1-in-300-year level.

Other highlights are:

- Rehabilitation and modernization of the Portage Diversion river-control structure.

-  Studying alternatives to increase the capacity of the Assiniboine River, Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin flood-control systems, including options to increase outflow from Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.

- Extension of the community diking program for an additional two years to build more dikes in the Assiniboine basin.

- Expansion and extension of the province's Individual Flood Mitigation Program to help more families and businesses protect their homes and property.    

- Financial assistance for producers to remain in business by helping with costs to rent alternative pastures or feeding sites and transporting feed and livestock.

- Financial assistance for livestock damage to pastures and livestock infrastructure.

- Financial assistance for damage and lost yield on tame forage and annual crop land.

- Financial assistance for reseeding land affected by flooding.

- Cash advances will be available under each of these programs.

The province also said a component of the Building and Recovery Action Plan is to provide new supports to communities to rebuild infrastructure like damaged roads to stimulate economic activity.

That includes advances of up to 60 per cent or $100,000, whichever is greater, of repair costs will be made to municipalities against disaster financial assistance claims. These advances, along with the improvement of a $5 per-capita cap on municipal cost sharing introduced in 2009, will allow municipalities to more quickly restore roads and other infrastructure.

To learn more, go to  www.Manitoba.ca, email floodrecovery@masc.mb.ca or phone 1-855-220-1822 (toll-free).

History

Updated on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:12 PM CDT: Adds quotes from two homeowners

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