Downtown Grand Forks during spring flooding, May 11, 2018. (Eric Lawson/Grand Forks Gazette)

Downtown Grand Forks during spring flooding, May 11, 2018. (Eric Lawson/Grand Forks Gazette)

New program extends disaster relief for B.C. residents

Premier John Horgan announces transition fund in Grand Forks

The B.C. government has established a new longer-term disaster relief program for B.C. residents affected by floods, fires and other disruptions of their homes and lives.

Premier John Horgan announced the program Wednesday in Grand Forks, where many residents are still not able to move back to their homes after severe flooding of the community in May.

Horgan said the new recovery transition program will provide up to $2,800 over 90 days to cover living expenses of those who have been forced from their homes, in renewable 30-day instalments. The program is administered by the Canadian Red Cross, which provided similar funding for people evacuated from last summer’s forest fires.

Horgan urged B.C. residents to donate to the Red Cross flood relief fund, with donations being collected at B.C. liquor stores. The province is matching public donations dollar for dollar.

“It was eye-opening to do a flyover,” Horgan said in a conference call from Grand Forks Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve had public officials on the ground for the past month, making sure that we’re preparing to the greatest extent possible to deal with the recovery.”

Emergency social services funding was set up to help people forced out by house fires and other local emergencies, and it typically extends for three days. The program has been strained beyond its limits by events such as the widespread forest fire evacuations of 2017, where people were displaced for weeks at a time.

A similar relief program for aboriginal reserves is provided by a federal department, Indigenous Services Canada.

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