File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Months after historic floodwaters swept through New Brunswick, destroying buildings and inundating highways, hundreds of people remain out of their homes. A New Brunswick flag floats in floodwater from the Saint John River in Waterborough, N.B.

Hundreds of New Brunswick flood victims still out of homes months after deluge

FREDERICTON — Hundreds of people remain out of their homes in New Brunswick months after historic floodwaters swept through the province, destroying buildings and inundating highways.

Bill Lawlor, director of the Canadian Red Cross in New Brunswick, said Tuesday that 120 people are still in emergency accommodations while others have made alternate living arrangements until they can move back home.

“We had well over 300 people at the height of the evacuation and it’s gone down to as low as 70,” he said. “The number has gone up and down, but it’s stabilizing now and we’ll continue to see it decrease.”

The province said about 12,000 properties were affected by widespread flooding between late April and mid-May, with dozens of homes and cottages beyond repair.

Lawlor said some residents only recently called the humanitarian organization, after weeks of staying with relatives, friends and neighbours.

“Some thought it was a short-term situation but eight weeks later they call us saying, ‘I can’t couch surf anymore, I have children,’” he said, explaining the fluctuation in the number of people seeking emergency accommodations.

Lawlor said others have moved out of hotels and university residences, but may not yet be in their homes.

“Some people are in their driveway, they’ve set up their recreational vehicle or trailer while their home is being repaired or they figure out what to do next,” he said. “Others remain with a host family, but they’re not under our care.”

He said some homeowners are having trouble finding tradespeople to do renovations during New Brunswick’s busy building and construction season.

“For those folks who have needed to be completely out of their home or have moved back but have significant renovations underway or are waiting for work to be done, it’s very stressful and draining,” Lawlor said.

Thousands of flood victims have registered with the Red Cross, which has extended its deadline until July 13. The organization has raised a record $1.16 million in response to the flooding.

Geoffrey Downey, spokesman for the province’s Public Safety Department, said 2,927 residents registered for health and safety inspections before the deadline last week.

The province has received 475 applications for disaster financial assistance and has not yet set a deadline on applications, he said.

“Buyouts are being examined,” Downey said.

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