QUEEN’S PARK, TORONTO: During today’s Question Period Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norman Miller asked the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry what is being done to help those impacted by flooding in Muskoka and elsewhere in Ontario.
Minister John Yakabuski told Miller that the Provincial Emergency Operation Centre has been fully activated and is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ministry of the Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
Contrary to comments by some, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry had prepared for a large run-off this spring. In a statement over the weekend Minister Yakabuski confirmed that the Ministry had drawn down Lake Muskoka further that usual to prepare for the spring thaw. There is however only so much that MNRF can do because the dams were designed and built to keep water levels high during the summer not to prevent flooding.
“I have visited Bracebridge, Huntsville and Katrine to see the damage and meet with local officials,” said Miller. “Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith, Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison and Armour Township Reeve Bob MacPhail are showing great leadership and doing everything they possibly can to protect the safety and the property of local residents.”
Flooding and other natural disasters are managed locally by the municipality with support from the Provincial and Federal governments. There are two provincial programs that provide support in natural disasters: the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program which helps to rebuild municipal infrastructure and Disaster Recovery Assistance Ontario (DRAO). DRAO applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. It provides assistance for emergency expenses and the costs to repair or replace essential property following a natural disaster that are not covered by insurance.
As the water recedes the Province will send a team to evaluate the damage and determine if the area will be eligible for MDRA and/or DRAO. The Province has already been in touch with local municipalities to start to make arrangements for this evaluation.
“We all owe a great big thank you to the first responders and the volunteers who are helping to keep everyone safe and trying to protect property,” said Miller “And I want to reiterate that everyone should stay clear of fast moving water, respect road closures, and, for seasonal residents, please don’t come to check on your property until the flooding has subsided.”