Residents attend town hall meeting in Chetwynd after flooding

Residents were introduced to the provincial representatives from the Disaster Financial Assistance Program and the Canadian Red Cross who are running the Resilience Centre for victims of the recent flood.

Mona Smith, Disaster Financial Assistance Program Director for BC, outlined how impacted residents must complete the required forms and meet with an assessor of the PEP Program Tim MacLeod.

Macleod outlined the process of cleaning up homes damaged by the flood and what damages are eligible.

Gary Carleton of the Canadian Red Cross and Red Cross volunteers from the province were in attendance and he outlined that the volunteers will assist in the process by assisting in applying for assistance, but all forms must be filed with the Disaster Financial Assistance Program.

Acting Mayor Cathy Weaver thanked all residents for attending and expressed the District of Chetwynd's appreciation for all of the hard and extensive work by the Public Works and staff at the District.

Karen Goodings, Chair of the Peace River Regional District and Tim Caton, Director of Region E, spoke about the Declaration of Emergency declared by the Peace River Regional District.

Goodings stated that the Declaration would permit officials the right to go on to private land to clear debris and flood damage.  The immediate threats of more rain and flooding were heavy on the mind of speakers and where the new rains would result in the greatest impact.

The past flooding event was summarized by the Emergency Coordinator for Chetwynd and he described the event as "one hundred year event" and he further described how the District of Chetwynd responded as over 128 mm of rain fell in a 24 hour period of time.  The Emergency Management Coordinator for the Regional District outlined how Regional District staff had dispatched staff members to check on residents in all areas.

The audience was also reminded that some areas had received as much as 166 mm of rain during the recent flood and the Pine River had over 30 % of a snow pack in place prior to the flood.

Rob Crisfield, the District of Chetwynd Public Works Director, explained how challenges are still in place as the town cleans up from the flood and outlined the fact that the low lift from the District had been submerged by the Pine River and the District was still responding to new challenges from the flood damage.

Officials from Northern Health spoke about the contamination of wells in the area and offered services to have well and drinking water checked free of charge and even homes examined to determine if they are habitable.

Resident questions were delivered with emotion.  Moberly Lake residents wanted to know future plans for repairs around the lake, Hasler and Willow Flats wanted to know what the Ministry of Transportation and CN Rail were doing to handle large volumes of water in the future and many residents wanted to know if they were eligible.  Andy Ackerman, facilitator on contract to the District of Chetwynd, urged residents to speak to members of the Resilience Center and some residents urged others to contact Blair Lekstrom, the MLA for the Peace River.

After the meeting, Red Cross volunteers from the Resilience Center made appointments with residents to assist with form writing and the Assessor also made appointments for examining resident homes and farms.  PEP assessors from other areas of the province will be called in to assist.

Residents in the Peace can call 250-401-7515 for appointments with the Resilience Center at any time.  The Center will be open at the Chetwynd Recreation Center from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm for the next three to five days.

Many residents stayed at the Town Hall meeting until 10 pm to ask questions of the Disaster Financial Program speakers and to set up subsequent meetings.

As residents left, the rains again started.