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First Nations disaster office assessing damages

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Band members of district First Nations now are eligible to apply for disaster relief funding through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Two representatives from Indian Affairs, Real Bouchard and Sonny McGinnis, will be touring district First Nation communities to assess the damage.

“Right now, we’re going to be doing a couple of things. Obviously, we’ll be taking calls from First Nations who are wondering [what damages are covered],” said Bouchard.

“We’ll [also] be visiting the Fort Frances disaster relief office run by Ian Mollett. There are a lot of similarities,” he noted.

“We’ll be making contact with communities and making time for [McGinnis] and adjusters to visit,” Bouchard added. “We’re trying to get a very good assessment on damages by July 31.

“We’re hoping everyone gets in contact with us before that date.”

Christine Jourdain, economic development officer for Couchiching, said there definitely will be claims from residents there.

“A lot of claims will be from sewer damage,” she said. “Every home in the Frog Creek subdivision had damage from sewer back-up. Carpets and gyprock had to be removed.

“Some of them had to be housed in hotels for a few days,” she added. “It was unfortunate. It’s been awful, but we’re slowly getting things back together and repairing the damage.”

Rainy River First Nations Chief Gary Medicine said his band experienced mostly road damages. “If there is going to be any claims, it would be from road erosion due to the flood,” he remarked.

Bouchard said the disaster relief office will begin by looking at personal property damages.

“There’s two separate avenues the department is looking at for disaster relief,” he explained. “One avenue is personal property and the other is capital infrastructure.

“Firstly, we want to identify what damage took place. This office here will just focus on personal First Nations property damage,” Bouchard said.

The First Nation band offices will work through their tribal councils and departmental councils to apply for funding for capital infrastructure.

So far, 13 area First Nations are eligible for disaster relief, including Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing, Big Grassy, Naicatchewenin, Couchiching, Nicickousemenecaning, Ojibways of Onigaming, Rainy River (Manitou Rapids), Seine River, Lac La Croix, Stanjikoming, Northwest Angle 33, Northwest Angle 37, Naotkamegwanning, Iskatewizaagegan No. 39, and Shoal Lake No. 40.

Other First Nations will be checked for damage.

The disaster relief office at the Couchiching First Nation Bingo Hall is run out of Brian Perrault’s office.

To contact the disaster relief office, call 274-9042 or fax 274-4074.

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