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Thousands of Albertans still waiting for 2013 flood disaster claims: report

EDMONTON — Thousands of people are still waiting for their disaster recovery claim payments a year after devastating floods hit 30 communities in southern Alberta.

A report into the provincial government’s response to the June 2013 disaster shows that less than half of 10,486 claims have been paid out at a cost of about $75 million.

More than 2,800 claims for financial compensation are still being processed and another 3,600 claims have been declared ineligible or have been withdrawn.

Municipal Affairs Minister Greg Weadick said the extent of the damage, insurance issues, flood mitigation plans and appeals have slowed the process.

“The government of Alberta really has stepped up quickly to try to alleviate as much of the stress as possible for the citizens,” Weadick said Thursday.

“For some they are still in the process of making a decision about whether they are going to move out of the floodway, (whether) to rebuild, whether they are going to repair.”

Weadick added the federal government has indicated it will be contributing less money for the 2013 floods. The figure could be $1 billion less than expected due to lower than anticipated costs and because Alberta is offering assistance programs that fall outside of federal disaster assistance rules.

Alberta estimates the net shortfall is $374 million. The government has sent a letter to Ottawa challenging that amount.

“We have made decisions to support Albertans above and beyond what the program provides,” Weadick said.

For example, he said, Ottawa helps pay the cost of sheltering families forced from their homes by a disaster for up to six months. But some people in southern Alberta have been out of their homes for a year and will be out even longer.

The province has also released details of 247 flood-related contracts worth $535 million.

The flooding that began on June 20 forced 100,000 people from their homes and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage. Four people drowned and a fifth died helping a neighbour sandbag.

The report says the high water damaged 14,000 homes, 80 schools and 10 health facilities, and forced the closure of nearly 1,000 kilometres of highway.

Alberta’s 2014 budget pledged $1.1 billion in flood-related spending over three years, including $518 million this fiscal year.

 
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