New homes for flood victims in the Dehcho will not be delivered until 2022, according to the minister of municipal and community affairs (MACA). This is disappointing news to Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation (LKFN) Chief Kele Antoine.
“I myself along with our community members are upset to hear the news that it’s going to take us through the winter for them to get into their homes,” he told CKLB on Friday evening. “Some of our people have been in hotels and other living situations for I think 128 days so far and I’m concerned of the long-term effects, of the trauma this is having on our community members.”
Several homes in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River First Nation were damaged or destroyed by devastating flooding that hit in May. In late June, MACA announced 16 to 18 homes in Tthets’éhk’edélî (Jean Marie River) First Nation require repairs. Chief Stanley Sanguez says the community is waiting for about seven modular homes to replace damaged homes.
MACA said the flooding in Fort Simpson led to 70 private homes being damaged with 60 requiring repairs and 10 requiring replacement.
Shane Thompson, MACA minister, said in a news release that more time is needed to deliver on customizations that meet the long-term needs of residents in the replacement homes.
“Residents were offered options and they have agreed that this is the way forward. For our part, we will keep roofs over their heads until those homes are delivered and installed, and we will work to get them the support they need,” he said.
Chief Antoine says he understands the flood was unexpected, but says the situation has been incredibly difficult for the community.
“For example we have families with autistic children that had to first introduce these children to camping in an emergency situation and now they had to deal with assisting them into a motel living situation so it’s been very difficult and taxing on these parents and family members,” he said. “It’s been very taxing on our Elders that are still without homes.”
Chief Antoine said going forward LFKN will establish a wellness plan with the village and the Red Cross.
“I hope we can get some some sort of psychological first aid to help us deal with these these conditions,” he said.
Chief Sanguez said he knows some residents are disappointed by the delay, but adds there is nothing that can be done about it.
Repairs in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River First Nation are expected to be completed by November.
Additionally Thompson said repairs in Fort Good Hope have been delayed as a result of the COVID outbreak. Those are also expected to be completed by November.