FREDERICTON (GNB) – Several programs are being made available for recreational property owners who experienced property damages during the 2018 spring freshet flooding.

These include a special one-time financial assistance for debris cleanup, property tax relief, free well testing and free tipping fees. Also, the government will take steps to prevent the likelihood and severity of future damages caused by floods by requiring property owners to submit plans to mitigate these risks when they seek permits to construct or alter property within 30 metres of a watercourse or wetland.

“Keeping New Brunswickers safe and helping those impacted by flooding begin the recovery process is our priority,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Andrew Harvey. “While the federal Disaster Financial Assistance program does not cover the restoration of recreational properties, we recognize there is a legitimate need to help owners of recreational properties with the financial burden caused by this historic and devastating flood. Providing assistance to these New Brunswickers will ensure potential health and safety risks are removed and the natural environment is restored.”

Under the federal-provincial disaster assistance program, the federal government reimburses provinces for up to 90 per cent of eligible costs, leaving provinces with 10 per cent of the costs. The federal criteria does not allow for reimbursement of costs relating to the restoration of recreational properties.

Under the assistance announced today, recreational property owners can receive up to $6,100 from the provincial government to help clean up their property. Claims can be made for labour or contracted cleanup cost. All claims are subject to adjudication by an adjuster using national standards.

The financial assistance is being established in recognition of the historic nature of this year's flooding.

The first step that residents must take to obtain financial assistance is to report damages by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering them online. The Service New Brunswick TeleServices line is 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 assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams will be dispatched to individual properties. All property owners and businesses are also reminded to keep all their receipts.

The Disaster Financial Assistance program, launched on May 2, 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.

Property tax relief

Property owners, including owners of recreational properties, may be eligible for an adjustment of their 2018 property taxes due to damage caused by the flooding. 

Property owners that have experienced damage can complete a form for an application for adjustment of tax. Property Assessment Services will review the application and make an adjustment to the property assessment to reflect the damages incurred. The adjustment will be determined based on the current level of assessment attributed to the buildings. There is no adjustment of tax on unimproved properties such as vacant land.

Service New Brunswick encourages affected property owners to contact their regional property assessment services office for further information pertaining to the application for adjustment of tax or to call 1-888-762-8600. An application form is also available online.

Free well water testing

The provincial government is providing free testing for water from private wells which have been directly affected by recent flooding.

Beginning May 17, water sampling kits will be available at Service New Brunswick centres for owners of private wells. Since flooding has occurred at various locations and at different times, New Brunswickers are reminded they must wait 10 days after water has receded from the well area before beginning the chlorination and sampling process.

More information regarding chlorinating and flushing wells can be found by visiting the Department of Environment and Local Government’s website.

All owners of private wells are advised that their water should be tested twice a year for bacterial analysis, in the spring and fall, to help ensure safety.

Tipping fees waived for flood-damaged items

People wishing to independently dispose of non-hazardous items may take them to the following locations at no charge: Crane Mountain landfill, Fredericton Region Solid Waste and the Regional Service Commission 8 transfer station. Regular household hazardous waste generated by the flood can also be taken at these facilities. People should inform staff at the gate that they are disposing of flood-damaged items.

Mitigation measures to protect properties, wetlands and watercourses

To mitigate environmental impacts and future losses due to flooding, the Department of Environment and Local Government will be requiring property owners to submit plans that include new mitigation measures or design before permits will be issued under the Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Regulation. Currently, that regulation under the Clean Water Act requires that any person intending to do work, including construction, demolition, placing or removing fill, clearing land or landscaping within 30 metres of a watercourse or wetland must obtain a permit. This includes new building construction, as well as reconstruction or expansion of existing buildings.

To reduce the flood risk on proposed development, including rebuilding, conditions may be added to permits to reduce the potential damage to buildings caused by standing or flowing water. Information about flood-proofing can be found online.

The goal of the new proposed measures is to reduce the likelihood that a building or its contents will be damaged during a flood and to reduce the cost of repairs if damage does occur.

Support for local economies and infrastructure

The provincial government will also co-ordinate ongoing efforts to support local economies and ensure critical effects on infrastructure are identified and rectified. The Regional Development Corporation will lead this work in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Department of Environment and Local Government.

Flood recovery

A website is now available with helpful links offering homeowners and property owners advice on cleaning up their properties, safety information and details on how individuals can support recovery efforts in their local community.

The Canadian Red Cross is offering flood cleaning kits to New Brunswickers who are able to safely re-enter their homes and begin cleanup. The free kits can be picked up at its offices at 120 MacDonald St. (Loch Lomond Place) in Saint John and 318 Maple St. in Fredericton from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., including during the weekend.

There is a limit of one kit per household. The kits are self-contained in a 20-litre (five-gallon) plastic container that also serves as a bucket and lid, and is filled with useful items such as a mop, broom, squeegee, scrub brush, sponges, work gloves and latex gloves, masks, garbage bags and a bleach-based, all-purpose cleaner.

Before cleaning a home that was flooded, residents are urged to contact insurers where applicable, and to record and register all damage with Service New Brunswick online.

If residents find sewage has backed up into their home, they should wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves if in contact with water and during cleanup. They should wash their hands with warm water and soap after removing the rubber gloves.

The Public Health website has more details about safe cleanup procedures.