Council passes disaster declaration for Sault Ste. MarieTuesday, September 24, 2013 by: Donna Hopper
During last evening's meeting of City Council, a resolution passed requesting a disaster declaration for the City of Sault Ste. Marie following the significant rainfall that occurred Monday, September 9, 2013.
The subsequent flooding caused extensive damage to a number of area homes as well as City infrastructure.
The resolution, moved by Councillor B. Watkins and seconded by Councillor R. Niro, reads:
"Whereas the municipality of the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie recently experienced severe flooding as a result of extraordinary and unforeseen amounts of heavy rainfall on September 9, 2013 and experienced substantial damage to municipal property and infrastructure and has received reported losses of private damage, the Council of the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie hereby requests the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to declare the City of Sault Ste. Marie a 'disaster area' for the purposes of the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAO); Further, should the Minister declare a disaster area regarding the private component of ODRAP, Council will immediately, under the authority of ODRAP, appoint members to a Disaster Relief Committee to administer ODRAP."
The disaster declaration is a prerequisite which would allow the City of Sault Ste. Marie to potentially qualify for assistance under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP).
As stated on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website: "The program provides financial assistance within the declared disaster area to restore damaged public infrastructure and/or private property to pre-disaster condition, when the cost of restoration exceeds the financial capacity of the affected individuals, municipality and community at large."
There are both public damage and private damage components to ODRAP.
In order for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to accept the disaster declaration, along with the appropriate resolution Council must submit a municipal disaster information report.
For the private damage component, this includes:
- The magnitude of estimated private damage suffered by individuals/families, farms, small businesses and non-profit organizations;
- Number of damaged properties with insurance coverage;
- Preliminary cost estimate to restore, replace or repair essential property and contents to pre-disaster condition. This information can be gathered from those affected through a municipal survey or a registration process;
- Newspaper clippings, photographs and other documentary evidence where available;
- Other information council believes is pertinent (e.g., Conservation Authority reports, Environment Canada reports, etc.).
The public component of ODRAP could see a community receive up to 100 percent of eligible costs reimbursed for uninsured disaster-related municipal infrastructure damage.
The associated disaster information report must include:
- Extent of municipal damage suffered, including expenses incurred by other municipalities which support response operations or act as a Host Community;
- Preliminary cost estimate to restore, replace and/or repair damage to municipal property and infrastructure to pre-disaster condition;
- Other information council believes is pertinent (e.g., Conservation Authority reports, Environment Canada reports, etc.)
"We have not yet realized what our public infrastructure repair costs are going to be," said City of Sault Ste. Marie CAO, Joe Fratesi. "If they are not so significant that they bring us up to… the threshold that the province will use to measure us as far as being eligible, we'll not be met."
Fratesi speculated that Sault Ste. Marie would not be deemed eligible for the public ODRAP component once the province examines the City's financial status and revenue records as he doesn't feel the repair costs will reach that provincial threshold.
Based on information gathered from local disaster restoration companies, it's estimated that between 700 and 800 area homes suffered damage due to flooding.
Most of these households - an estimated 80 percent - have insurance coverage, and the average claim falls around the $30,000 mark.
Should the Minister declare a disaster area, a local Disaster Relief Committee is required to implement the program and head fundraising efforts.
The province may match funds raised by the Disaster Relief Committee up to a two to one ratio.
The municipality itself is not permitted to contribute to this fundraising effort, financially or otherwise.
Private losses and damage costs not eligible under ODRAP include:
- Losses covered by insurance;
- Insurance deductible;
- Secondary residences, e.g. cottages;
- Non-essential furniture, e.g. stereos, recreation room furniture;
- Landscaping, fencing, driveways and retaining walls;
- Recreational vehicles, e.g. boats, snowmobiles;
- Antiques and collections;
- Loss of revenue or wages;
- Losses recoverable by law.
"There are lots of rules around this that we need to understand. And at the end of the day, you may not see enough eligible claims where you would put this into play on the private side," said Fratesi. "What I'm suggesting this evening, there is a requirement that if you wish to preserve your right - once all the numbers are in, once all the information is gathered both on the public side and the private side, and that you see if it is worth your while doing one or the other, or both - at least your right to do so is preserved by passing this resolution."