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PDAP strengthens support for flood-stricken communities

The provincial government has made changes to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) in response to the demands on the program this summer. And one regional organization is benefitting.

The provincial government has made changes to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) in response to the demands on the program this summer. And one regional organization is benefitting.
On September 28, the Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing (CPSP) announced that it has hired additional structural engineers, primarily for use in the communities of Maple Creek and Yorkton. Four new engineering firms have been hired, bringing the total of engineering firms assigned to file reports to six.
Structural engineers are needed to determine which structures can be repaired and which need to be demolished. This response is subsequent to inspections of post-flood residences and properties, which are now complete.
The announcement is welcome news to Wendy Yaworski, CEO of the Regional Authority of Carlton Trail Waste Management District (REACT).
"We are waiting for PDAP engineers to assess the site," she said of REACT's landfill south of Humboldt."And they are going to help us with short-term planning to keep the site open."
REACT is waiting for the engineers to tell them if the dikes, built to deal with previous flooding, are high enough and in good enough shape to withstand the spring runoff.
"We've been warned by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) to be prepared for the worst if we get any amount of snow this winter," she said. "We've had almost four feet of rain this year since April 13 and we've raised the dike 15 feet this year."
Right now, the water is three and a half to four feet below the level of the dikes, Yaworski noted, but last spring, one foot of snow raised the level of Little Joe Lake by a foot.
"Usually, you get one inch of rise for every foot of snow, but that didn't happen," she said. "We want to make sure (the dikes) will hold for the spring runoff."
Since 2007, REACT has raised the dikes at the Humboldt landfill site 21 feet. They will be riprapping the dikes to strengthen them this fall.
Earlier this summer, the government also changed the rules for the amount of assistance certain businesses and organizations could receive under PDAP. Non-profit organizations like REACT had their maximum amount of assistance increased from $160,000 to $500,000.
"We were quite pleased with that increase," Yaworski said. "It will allow us to carry out a larger portion of what needs to be done at the site."
REACT has already spent approximately $150,000 on the Humboldt landfill site since April, she noted. Any improvements to the dikes mandated by the PDAP engineers, as well as the costs of riprapping them, will raise those costs.
As well, CPSP has dispatched additional independent claims adjusters to help assess the kind and extent of damage being reported by claimants. To date, PDAP has paid out approximately 2,050 claims, totalling around $6.7 million.
In Yorkton, city officials recommended 46 residences and businesses for structural inspections. In Maple Creek, CPSP building inspectors determined that number to be 67.
"Residents have told us they needed the assessment stage of recovery done so they could start work on repairing or replacing their damaged property," said D.F. (Yogi) Huyghebaert, CPSP minister. "We've responded with additional technical personnel to help the process go faster."
PDAP guidelines and payment criteria have been changed to include an increase in the advance payment from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the amount of the claim on approval of the adjuster's report. With the additional adjusters, these reports will be coming in quicker.
Additionally, depreciation rates on tangible property such as drywall, furnaces, hot water heaters, and concrete have been reduced to better fit the real pre-disaster value of such items. The ministry will continue to respond to the most critical needs by processing claims for replacement of furnaces and hot water heaters on a priority basis. Consideration is also being given to other measures that will expedite the replacement of furnaces and hot water heaters and make them more affordable to flood victims.
"This government is concerned about the needs of the communities and individuals needing support to rebuild their lives," Huyghebaert said. "We are working hard on solutions that help us move this support faster to where it's needed. We have had unprecedented flooding in our province this year, and our government wants to do everything we can to ensure Saskatchewan people are taken care of."

REACT Moving
The continuing problems at the Humboldt landfill has forced REACT to contemplate closing the site and finding another one. A decision to move the site was made at the board's meeting in August, explained Wendy Yaworski, REACT CEO.
While the decision has been made to close the Humboldt landfill, it will be at least three years before a new site would be operational.
"We will do everything we can to keep this site open until we find a new location," Yaworski said. "We're not closing it right now."