A meeting Friday presented an opportunity for relief.
The City of Estevan hosted an information meeting at the Legion Hall on Friday evening for those who have experienced water damage as a result of the flooding. About 250 people attended, with only standing room remaining.
Marv Michael, assistant chief building official with the government of Saskatchewan, made a presentation as to what people should be looking for in terms of damage. Mould is the most daunting challenge in cases like here, when water is the problem.
"Anything like drywall definitely will be (a target for mould)," he said. "Masonry foundation walls and concrete walls, they're a perfect environment because they are holding moisture within them. You need to find out what's behind those walls, because the problem with mould is it continues to manifest itself and completely consume your house to the point where it's beyond control."
There are a number of steps to take if you feel your home is eligible for relief from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP), which covers 95 per cent of the damages, while the property owner is expected to cover the other five per cent. Taxes are not reimbursed.
Only permanent residences and small businesses are eligible and there is a six-month window from the date of the disaster to submit an application for private property assistance. Landscaping is not typically covered, but there may be some extraordinary circumstances where that will be covered. Whether or not it is eligible may be decided during the inspection.
Residents are asked to log all the work they have done, like emergency response action. Sandbagging and temporary dikes are covered. If you rented a shop-vac, keep the receipt.
Any work is the responsibility of the property owner, whether they do the work themselves or hire a contractor. If a contractor is hired, PDAP requires supporting documentation, for instance all paid invoices, and the invoice will be accepted only if the rates charged match industry standards.
PDAP doesn't cover anything that is covered by another government program. Unseeded crops are covered by Sask Crop Insurance.
Licensed building officials conduct inspections on behalf of PDAP, determining if there is a need for PDAP adjusters, structural engineers or real estate appraisers.
Michael asks residents to take extensive photos of any problem areas and to consult with their insurance company. They should be the first line of defence for damages.
If insurance doesn't cover the damages, then people are asked to file a PDAP claim.
Michael said it is important to begin cleanup right away and not wait for inspections or funding. Waiting could take a couple of months, and by then there could be irreparable damages to the home.
Residents should clean everything out, dispose of ruined possessions and begin making repairs, making sure the extent of the damages is well documented beforehand.
Inspectors will look into possible problem areas like electrical work.
"During our inspections, if we find problems with appliances, we do have to report those, which may cause those appliances to be shut down or taken out of service, and ultimately too, depending on the circumstances, you may have to leave your homes," said Michael. "It's all about helping you on this path to recovery."
He said his organization works very closely with local governments, mayors and reeves so they are available for further information. If people are wondering when and where to haul debris they can contact their municipality.
Flooded basements are one of the biggest problems for people in Estevan, but Michael said while residents should clean up, retouching a previously finished basement is something people should really think about first.
"Maybe approach that very cautiously," he said. "Yes, take the time to clean those basements and dry them out, but as far as trying to bring them back or revitalizing them and trying to bring them back to where they were, there may be a cautious approach. You may just be wasting money."
Any Estevan residents who could not attend the meeting but would like to submit a private property triage form to PDAP may obtain a form from the City's website at www.estevan.ca.