No federal government response on emergency financial aid leaves Princeton struggling – Penticton News

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Casey Richardson

Only a few households in Princeton have been able to resettle of the 300 that were damaged in the extreme flooding in November. There is an exasperated cry for help from residents of the community as months pass without answers about what is to come.

Danie Brooks and her sister Dian have lived more than 50 kilometers from their home since it was flooded in the fall.

Repairs are progressing slowly thanks to the Mennonite Disaster Service, but their insurance does not cover the damage and they are desperate for the promised financial support.

The two shared frustrations with the lack of responses from any government or government department.

Currently, the City of Princeton and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen are awaiting responses from the provincial government, which in turn is waiting to have a conversation with the federal government to secure funding.

Funding delegations are at a standstill until the two jurisdictions meet.

In November, the Brooks were trapped in their upstairs home for two days without food or water when floods hit, with muddy water rushing into their downstairs.

They were eventually whisked off their farm on Highway 3 by a search and rescue boat, which rolled out of their top floor window.

Four dogs, two horses, three cats and a turtle were also rescued, split among friends and family as the couple checked into a motel in Tulameen.

Floors, walls and insulation were all torn up after crumbling furniture was cleaned up, with fans and humidifiers spread throughout the house. Hopefully they will work well enough to dry out the house and allow it to be rebuilt.

That’s if mold isn’t growing and the house is in reasonably good condition.

“What we’re still waiting for, on this first day of March, is any solid information from any level of our government to say ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do for you’ and the spell. Nothing yet,” Danie explained.

“Where is our government when this happens to us? Abbotsford? Chilliwack. The prairies. Yes, these people matter. Princeton is just one place on the road.

At this time, evacuees and Mayor Spencer Coyne understand that emergency services assistance, which is supported by the Canadian Red Cross, ends at the end of March.

“There is a lot of frustration, especially at the moment with the accommodation situation. Accommodations will apparently end at the end of March now. They were originally scheduled to end on February 15. I caused headaches and they extended this until the end of March. We haven’t heard of any other expansions at this point,” Coyne said.

But on Tuesday, the organization clarified that assistance to evacuees with temporary accommodation will continue.

“The Red Cross is working closely with accommodation providers to provide support to people unable to return home after the floods with financial support to help cover their accommodation and basic needs while they transition to longer-term housing,” their statement reads.

Financial contributions will continue to help with the cost of commercial housing after March 31 for flood-affected individuals and families to allow them the time they need to find longer-term housing options that meet their needs. .

Their case management team will continue to work with people who may need additional personalized support for those who are not yet able to find alternatives to their current accommodation.

“Recovery looks different for every community and individual and the Red Cross will continue to work on a case-by-case basis with those affected to ensure personalized supports are available as needed, with a similar approach to the 2021 wildfires in Colombia. -British.”

While the emergency aid continues, there is still a fatigue trying to rebuild the houses.

“Princeton is a small potato on a global scale. There could be a nuclear explosion at any time of the day that would wipe us all out. If it happens, I want to be in my own house when it happens. I don’t want to live in a motel,” Danie said.

“People are slowly going home, but not as fast as everyone would like of course,” Coyne added. “We currently have 60 construction requests just to deal with the flooding. So that’s what works. And then there are of course the apartment buildings which are still in disarray.

Dian said another area of ​​frustration is the lack of coordinated efforts.

“They’re flying by the seat of their pants, because this is a massive disaster that no one anticipated…. I wanted answers and I didn’t get them,” she said.

“We went there, we did some cleanup, we did as much rescue as we could. We have worked hard all our lives to get where we are. And we lost everything. And the government doesn’t care.

While the city can move forward with some infrastructure and road repairs, areas outside the border, which are governed by the RDOS, must wait for provincial approvals.

“The Regional District team is working as hard as we are, they just have more obstacles in their way, if anything. For example, the dykes do not belong to the regional district, they belong to the province. They call them orphan dikes because no one takes responsibility for them. It has to come from a ministry that has to pay for it,” Coyne said.

The federal government’s silence continues to be frustrating.

“It shouldn’t come to this. There should be people who say, “Okay, that’s what I’m supposed to do.” I get paid to take care of that part of the emergency services problem. And that’s not happening,” Danie said.

The federal government has pledged $5 billion to British Columbia for flood relief, with the city trying to secure a $2 million pledge to pay its share of $10 million in financial aid in the event of disaster.

“There is no relationship with the federal government. As far as I’m concerned,” Coyne said.

He said Princeton MP Dan Albas, along with South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings and Boundary-Similkameen MP Roly Russell, continue to press governments for help. for Princeton, Coalmont, Tulameen and the rest of affected Similkameen residents.

Ten percent of Princeton’s population remains displaced.

“I mean, if it was 10% Vancouver, 10% Richmond or Surrey, I mean people would be all over it,” the mayor said. “But because we’re a small town and Merritt is a small town, we don’t seem to get the same attention that I think it deserves. 10 p. 100 of the population of any municipality that is displaced is a huge, huge problem. And that’s a huge problem.”

“I mean, how do you maintain your community if you don’t have a community to maintain?”

Coyne reminds evacuated residents to head to the the city’s facebook page or the Princeton Resiliency Center for assistance in applying to all available support resources.

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