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County hopes for assistance to offset ice storm clean up costs

Prince Edward County is among 34 municipalities hoping to receive assistance to help pay for clean up from the December 2013 ice storm.

The County was one of the hardest hit municipalities in Eastern Ontario and costs for damages, municipal and emergency responses and cleanup are expected to exceed $500,000.

Crews began removing branches and fallen trees from the County’s 1,100 kms of roads when the storm began Dec 18 and due to significant and widespread damage, Mayor Peter Mertens said clean up of roads, sidewalks and municipal properties will continue well into 2014.

At the peak of the storm, more than 800,000 hydro customers were without power. Warming centres were opened in the County between Sunday, Dec. 22 and Christmas eve. More than 100 adults and children and some pets made use of the centres to warm up and charge mobile devices. Twenty-five people stayed overnight. The County was full powered by hydro on Dec. 27.

The province announced it is helping municipalities by working with the federal government to fund 100 per cent of  eligible recovery costs through a one-time Ice Storm Assistance Program.

While program details are still being finalized, eligible costs may be as much as $190 million based on estimates from municipalities. It is anticipated that the program would cover costs related to the immediate emergency response, such as setting up warming centres, and the subsequent cleanup of debris necessary to protect public safety.

Environment Canada states the ice accumulation of up to 30 millimetres on hydro wires and trees caused widespread power outages, downed trees and branches. Below freezing temperatures compounded the impact.

Costs incurred by the province for a natural disaster of this size qualify for federal government assistance under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program. Ontario intends to seek federal reimbursement for costs under this program.

The Ontario government is conducting two separate reviews in reponse to the ice storm. The first deals with co-ordination among first responders, hydro distributors, senior municipal officers and provincial ministries. The second, a Supply Chain Review, is to examine how critical supplies are procured and distributed. Both reviews are expected to be completed by late spring.

Filed Under: Local News

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