FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has launched a Disaster Financial Assistance program to help small businesses, municipalities and individuals who suffered property damage during the current freshet season.

Water levels have risen quickly over the past week, reaching and, in some cases, surpassing levels last seen during the floods of 2008 and 1973. Damage to private and public infrastructure has already been reported and is likely to increase in the days ahead.

“Keeping New Brunswickers safe is our priority at the moment,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Disaster Financial Assistance will be available to help ease the financial burden for residents who have been impacted by the flood. New Brunswickers who have been affected by flooding are encouraged to contact us to see what type of financial support they can receive.”

The program provides assistance for eligible damage and losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals, municipalities and small businesses. The maximum assistance for structural repairs to private residences is $160,000, while the maximum for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations is $500,000. Coverage is provided to repair and clean structures and to replace basic necessities. Assistance is not available for recreational properties.

Report damages

The first step that residents must take to access financial assistance is to report damages related to the current spring freshet by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering damages online.

The Service New Brunswick TeleServices line will be available to receive calls between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Damage Report Line program will allow residents, tenants, small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and local government representatives to receive information and register their flood-related damage with a single phone call.

The damage assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams may be dispatched if required.

Health and safety inspections

Health and safety inspections will assess damage and determine what repairs are required for residents to return to their homes.

Health and safety inspection teams will assess the damages to determine whether a home or place of business is safe enough for residents or owners to stay or to return. The specialization of these teams will allow them to effectively determine if repairs are needed and to inspect the electrical system to ensure that it is safe for NB Power to restore electricity.

When residents or business owners register for the program, they will be asked questions about their circumstances. If an inspection is required, it will be arranged without any extra steps.

Complimentary services

Residents affected by flooding are entitled to a number of complimentary services. Fees will be waived for:

  • well-water testing
  • electrical permits
  • collection of flood debris in local service districts

How to apply

A Disaster Financial Assistance package will be mailed to those who have already registered their damages.

People who were impacted but did not register their damages may register with Service New Brunswick online or by calling 1-888-298-8555. Once they have registered, an application package will be mailed to them.

Additional information on the program is available online.

Consult the Flood Recovery for your Home or Business guide for tips on cleaning up after a flood and Disaster Financial Assistance. You may also call 1-888-553-8558 if you have questions.

Residents and small businesses that are eligible to receive assistance are subject to paying a deductible. For individual homeowners the deductible is $1,000 and for small businesses the deductible is $5,000. The deductible is automatically waived for social services clients. Requests for waiver may also be considered from those who are experiencing severe financial hardship.

Advance payments available

Advance payments against the total value of an eligible claim may be authorized to help pay for urgent work that will enable owners to reoccupy their property as quickly as possible. Advance payments will normally be for claims in excess of $10,000, may not exceed the total payable value of the claim and may not exceed $4,000. An application form and more information on advance payments are available online and will be delivered by health and safety teams that inspect homes.

Call your insurance company first

Contact your insurance company first to determine if the damage is already covered. You may have coverage for some of your losses and your insurer can act on your claim right away. If the damage is not covered under an insurance policy, contact the recovery team at the Department of Justice and Public Safety’s Emergency Measures Organization so the eligibility can be assessed.

The following are examples of what can be claimed:

Uninsurable losses or damage. If major damage to your main residence prevents you from returning to your home for safety or hygiene reasons, you must first contact your insurance company to make a claim. If your insurer refuses to pay for damage, you may apply to the Disaster Financial Assistance program. Your situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, your insurer will have to complete the Appendix A to justify the refusal. The fact that you do not have home insurance does not make you automatically eligible for the program. If insurance was affordably available to you, and you chose not to purchase it, your losses will not be eligible. If you were insured, damage might be covered, so it would be considered an insurable loss.

Cleaning debris on your property. You must submit pictures of damage (broken trees, for example) before and after cleaning. If you do the cleaning yourself, keep a cleaning work registry. This means tracking the date, the name of the person who worked, the number of hours worked on that day and a description of the work performed. Write down the information for each person and every day worked that was necessary to complete the cleaning. If you used the services of a professional team, the cleaning bill will be refunded.

Food loss is considered an insurable loss. Residents should ask their insurance providers to cover this cost.

In case of issues with the insurer, call the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance at 1-888-283-5111.

Over the last 10 years, more than 13 natural disasters have occurred in New Brunswick, resulting in more than $185 million being spent on disaster recovery and mitigation activities.

As with any Disaster Financial Assistance program, the provincial government will submit received expenses to the federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements. It is a cost-shared agreement among the federal, provincial and territorial governments to help cover response and recovery expenses following a disaster. The federal government will then reimburse eligible expenditures.