Posted on 11/17/2012, 11:30 am, by

The majority of Manitobans displaced by flooding across the province are back home, all structural property damage has been appraised and more than 70 per cent of assistance claims have been completed as the province continues the largest flood recovery effort since 1950 with more than $1 billion spent to date. This announcement was made by Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

“With the success of the Lake St. Martin emergency channel bringing levels on Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba below flood stage late this summer, Manitobans made significant progress cleaning up and repairing flood damage,” said Ashton. “We know recovery will be a multi-year process and there are still evacuations in the hardest hit communities. Our highest priority remains helping these families get their lives back to normal.”

At the peak of the 2011 flood, there were 7,000 people evacuated from their homes. Around Lake Manitoba alone there were 276 evacuated families. Two hundred of those families returned home over the summer with another 20 families expected to be home over the coming weeks. First Nation communities were disproportionately affected by flooding with evacuations in 16 communities. Today six communities still have evacuations in place. All of the 179 Lake Manitoba First Nation evacuees are home, while 122 of the 179 evacuees from Pinaymootang First Nation have returned home since July 2012.

Over the spring and summer, a team of appraisers conducted almost 2,500 structural damage appraisals with home appraisals been given priority, said Ashton, adding the field work is now complete and most structural damage payments are expected to be completed before year’s end.

The geographical scope of the 2011 flood was the largest in Manitoba’s history and the province responded by developing special assistance programs like the Lake Manitoba Financial Assistance Program, which included assistance for cottage owners for the first time, and several other agriculture assistance programs that were completely provincially funded, the minister said. These programs are in addition to the Disaster Financial Assistance Program, which is cost-shared with the federal government.

There were three times the number of assistance claims filed after the 2011 flood than after the 1997 flood. Less than three per cent of the assistance payments have been appealed.

Provincial flood expenses so far include:

• agriculture assistance:  $359 million;
• assistance for homes and cottages under the Lake Manitoba Flood Assistance Program:  $48 million;
• disaster financial assistance:  $289 million;
• flood fighting, mitigation, restoration and flood proofing:  $240 million; and
• emergency channel and other infrastructure works:  $89 million.

The total flood expenditure to date is $1.025 billion.

The minister also announced that Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation has determined that there were periods of artificial flooding downstream of the Shellmouth Dam during 2011 and 2012 after the peak of the flooding. A compensation program will be developed in the coming months and affected producers will be contacted on the details, he said.