N.S. families who lost their homes to Fiona scramble to find a place to live


On the night time post-tropical storm Fiona hit Nova Scotia, Dana Boutilier awakened at dwelling to water dripping on her face from the ceiling above. She shortly realized one thing was very fallacious.

She jumped away from bed to find herself ankle deep in water.

“As I proceeded to depart the room to go to the washroom, water was capturing out within the washroom partitions. My eight yr previous awakened screaming saying that water was coming in by her lighting fixtures,” Boutilier stated.

The storm’s excessive winds and heavy rain pulled shingles and the roof cap off the house, close to Truro, N.S., and created a giant gap. Boutilier stated when she appeared across the subsequent morning, she noticed “utter devastation”.

Because of flooding, a lot of the home and the household’s belongings at the moment are coated in mould. Boutilier stated repairs will take a minimum of a yr to full and he or she’s apprehensive about her household’s residing scenario within the meantime. 

The Boutiliers are amongst lots of of Nova Scotians whose homes have been broken or destroyed within the storm. According to the Red Cross, greater than 250 individuals within the province had to depart their homes and keep in emergency shelters or be positioned in inns within the final three weeks.

A water-damaged bed room ceiling in Dana Boutilier’s dwelling after post-tropical storm Fiona hit on Sept. 24. (David Laughlin/CBC)

But Boutilier believes the true variety of individuals who need assistance is larger, as a result of she tried to get emergency assist and fell by the cracks. 

“When the Red Cross lastly referred to as me again, I used to be anticipating, ‘Yay, we’re gonna have assist, they’re catastrophe reduction,'” she stated. “[But] they recommended that I am going to our native homeless shelter and name my meals financial institution and ask them to whip up a scorching meal.

“And once I defined that is not what these organizations are designed for, she advised me they might name me again, they usually by no means did.”

Boutilier is on the board of the Truro Housing Outreach Society, which is the place the particular person from the Red Cross recommended she search shelter.

She knew the group did not have the capability to shelter families, so she introduced her youngsters to relations’ homes, and he or she and her husband went again to their home and camped in their moist front room with no electrical energy. 

For almost three weeks because the storm, the household has been break up up, sofa browsing in three completely different homes.

The household tried to save a few of their possessions by stacking them in one of many dryer areas of the house. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Their insurance coverage firm can be paying for an Airbnb whereas their house is unlivable, however Boutilier stated discovering a short-term rental was a wrestle, they usually cannot transfer in till Oct. 25. 

“Part of the issue was discovering a place in a housing disaster,” Boutilier stated. “We had to unload a lot of our animals, our livestock, as a result of we simply will not be right here … we’re going to be in an Airbnb utilizing different individuals’s stuff, residing in any individual else’s home.”

Boutilier stated she hadn’t heard again from the Red Cross or obtained any emergency funding till CBC News contacted the Red Cross about her scenario.

Then she obtained a telephone name from the group saying she could be receiving monetary assist. That got here on Saturday afternoon when she obtained an electronic mail fee of $500. She would not know whether or not extra is coming. 

The Red Cross declined to be interviewed about Boutilier’s scenario due to its guidelines on confidentiality.

Dan Bedell, the Red Cross communications director for the Atlantic Region, famous that tens of millions of {dollars} have been disbursed by his group up to now within the area.

“The Canadian Red Cross has already distributed greater than $11 million of assist on behalf of each governments and our personal Red Cross donors to about 32,000 households throughout the Atlantic area with numerous impacts from Fiona,” he stated. “These figures enhance each hour as extra households are contacted and their particulars are verified and we’re in a position to verify their most popular technique of receiving monetary assist, similar to through e-transfer, a pre-paid bank card or mailed cheque.”

Renters apprehensive about low emptiness price 

Alicia Getz and her daughter Mercury lived in an condominium constructing in Halifax Regional Municipality that was broken by the post-tropical storm. 

When the constructing’s roof was destroyed within the night time, they grabbed two suitcases and ended up at a Red Cross emergency shelter. Shortly after, they came upon their condominium was condemned they usually could not return. 

“I’m retaining myself sturdy and never crying, though I really feel like simply screaming my head off,” Alicia Getz stated. “Having watched documentaries and information applications and stuff like that with individuals displaced and not having a dwelling to return to, I by no means thought that we’d be in that scenario.”

Mercury and Alicia Getz are proven within the lodge room they’re staying in for 2 weeks whereas they seek for a new rental unit. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

After a few days sleeping on cots within the emergency shelter, the household was put up in a lodge by the Red Cross, with funding from the provincial authorities.

Getz stated the assist from the Red Cross within the provincial capital has been wonderful, however the lodge keep is just two weeks and he or she would not know what to do when it ends.

She had condominium insurance coverage and obtained the $1,000 emergency funding for individuals who cannot return to their homes, however she’s nonetheless involved concerning the low emptiness price and excessive rents within the metropolis. 

“It’s extraordinarily exhausting to find a new place. We’re reaching out to family and friends they usually’re reaching out to those that they know,” she stated. “I do not know if I’m going to give you the chance to find a dwelling.”

The condominium constructing on Foxwood Terrace in Spryfield the place Alicia and Mercury Getz lived was condemned after the storm. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

The provincial division that handles residential tenancies stated if a rental unit is broken in a storm, the owner has a duty to preserve it protected and match to live in.

“If the unit is deemed not match to live in by an entity similar to a hearth marshal or municipality, the tenancy is taken into account terminated underneath the Residential Tenancies Act,” stated Blaise Theriault, a spokesperson for the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services.

Getz stated her landlord has been serving to her seek for a new place to live, however she wonders whether or not any long-term housing assist can be accessible. 

Red Cross not liable for long-term assist

Bedell stated the group will attempt to prolong lodge stays for displaced individuals so long as attainable, however in some unspecified time in the future the group will step apart.

“We’re probably not concerned in long-term housing wants,” Bedell stated. “I imply we all know that that is a large situation, not simply right here in Nova Scotia however throughout the nation, involving a number of ranges of presidency and lots of different organizations with experience in housing points. We aren’t that group.”

When CBC requested if there can be any kind of long-term government-funded housing assist for individuals whose homes or rental models have been broken past restore, provincial Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing spokesperson Krista Higdon didn’t present particular particulars.

“We would anticipate individuals approaching their insurance coverage corporations for protection,” Higdon stated in a assertion. “For individuals who find themselves on the lookout for housing, we encourage them to attain out to inquire about our lease complement program and to clarify their present scenario and want.”

More funding for lodge stays

Higdon stated the Red Cross and Cape Breton Community Housing Association have every been given $100,000 to fund lodge stays for families who lost their homes. Viola’s Place and Pictou County Roots for Youth Society additionally obtained funding for emergency helps. 

But Dana Boutilier believes the assist from the federal government and the Red Cross ought to have been extra thorough in rural areas, and put in place extra shortly.

“They ought to had one thing arrange once they knew the hurricane was coming, that is their space of experience. They ought to have been prepared in order that when everyone the subsequent day had all these tragedies, individuals had someplace to go,” she stated.

“They want to do higher. They actually failed individuals on this space.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here