Alberta reveals details of flood assistance program

CALGARY – The Alberta government says homeowners and small businesses affected by last month’s severe flooding can expect a rebuild, but they won’t be entitled to hardwood floors or granite counter tops.

The province announced new details to its flood assistance program on Sunday, noting that all homeowners who qualify will get assistance for repairs, or a complete rebuild if that turns out to be cheaper.

But it says its funding formula will only apply for what it calls “basic levels of finish,” which it says will cover things like vinyl siding, asphalt shingles, “basic quality” carpet and laminate counter tops.

The announcement also states there will be funding to protect basements for homes and businesses in flood fringe areas by raising electrical outlets and panels, and for making repairs with materials that are easier to clean.

The province estimates it could cost $10,000 or more to repair or rebuild a basement with such measures instead of traditional materials and methods.

The policy says homeowners who don’t take such steps to protect their properties will not be able to get caveats that would make them ineligible for future flood assistance removed.

“We have a responsibility to put protective measures in place for future buyers, realtors, lenders and insurers,” Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said Sunday in a news release.

“This is another step toward rebuilding safer communities.”

The government has already said it would continue to provide relief to residents and businesses in the so-called flood fringe, where the risks are lower, but only if municipalities took steps to mitigate risks.

It will introduce legislation this fall that would ban new development in floodplains.

Griffiths said that the province’s disaster recover program will work with a homeowner’s existing insurance, but will not replace it.

The standards for flood mitigation in basements that were announced Sunday stipulate that wall openings be sealed where piping, wiring and conduits come through, to prevent seepage.

The policy also requires that main electrical panels be modified so that basement circuits affected by flood water can be isolated from the remainder of the home or business, allowing faster restoration of power to a property.

Plumbing must also be protected from backflow from public sewers.

“This funding formula is fair to our affected homeowners and provides them the information needed to make smart choices about their future,” Griffiths said in the release.

The province has said it will provide assistance this time to those who choose to rebuild in the riskiest areas, but will not provide any compensation for future flood damage in those zones.

The province says an advisory panel that was struck earlier this month is doing more work to determine an approach to community flood mitigation.

Some homes were destroyed and others severely damaged by the flooding that severely affected a number of Alberta communities.