RM declared disaster zone

Merle Pethick surveys a part of the wreckage at his property north of Rapid View Sept. 24. The 80 ft. pile of logs used to line either side of his driveway before the July 18 plow wind. While area has been declared a local disaster zone, Pethick doesn’t know how much it will help him and said he still has a huge amount of work to do.

By Mac Christie

The RM of Meadow Lake has finally been declared a local disaster zone, more than two months after the devastating plow wind that left the area in shambles.

The designation was approved Sept. 16, a longer than usual period following the disaster. That’s because the wrong application was sent following a special RM council meeting July 25, one week after the storm.

The correct application was made Sept. 2, part of which included determining if the total combined damage of all claimants exceeded $25,000.

Reeve John Lawson said residents indicated there was sufficient need.

“We had people coming into the office saying they had significant damage,” he said.

Lawson noted more than 50 application forms had been picked up in the week following the announcement, which acting RM administrator Claire Elliott said was a greater response than expected.

As for what can be claimed, Elliott explained it is anything not covered by home insurance.

“If you have trees that came down on a private road and you’ve had to get a CAT or something to push it off, so you could get out,” she said. “Expenses you incurred in the cleanup, those kinds of things would be covered.”

Applicants have until Jan. 18, 2012 to submit the application, and cleanup work must be completed by July 18, 2012, one year after the incident.

But some residents are unsure of the program’s usefulness from a personal standpoint, such as Merle Pethick, whose property north of Rapid View suffered extensive damage in the July storm.

He’s worried that the application requires photos of the property before the damage, as well as during the cleanup.

“I never really actually took a picture of my driveway,” Pethick said. “I’ve done lots of cleanup already and they wanted pictures partway through. I never kept track of any of that stuff.”

But Noel Mcavena, a financial manager with the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program, said not having the photos of prior to the storm isn’t a big problem.

“Our adjustors have done many, many claims, so they have a pretty good idea of what’s going on,” he said of the lack of photographic evidence.

He noted the critical photos to have are those during cleanup, because when an adjustor arrives after the claim, they can’t see what the damage was.

However, he added if the claimant doesn’t have photos, that doesn’t mean they won’t be supported.

“It just makes it a lot more difficult for our adjustor to do their job,” Mcavena explained. “It becomes difficult to determine a dollar value for the work.”

In fact, Mcavena said if the cleanup isn’t a health and safety concern, it might be better to wait until after the adjustor visits.

Pethick was also concerned about making a proper estimate of the cost of the damage.

“I mean, say you’ve got 350 feet of driveway with trees down of both sides,” he said. “How do you estimate what that’s going to cost to cleanup?”

But Mcavena said estimating damage cost is used as a guideline.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t have a large impact on the claim,” he noted, adding the adjustor will used the estimate to gauge how much time they need to spend at a site.

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