Thunder Bay and Area Disaster Relief vice-chairwoman Lynn Peterson reminds the public the deadline for flood victims to file for advance, $1,000 claims is Monday at 8 p.m.
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The city says at the province’s recommendation, they’ve hired a program manager to oversee the Thunder Bay and Area Disaster Relief Fund.
Kari Chiappetta, a social worker by trade, says her role is to take on the front line of relief efforts, co-ordinating the claim form process and assisting the DRC with its fundraising efforts over the next several months.
“I think the scope of the relief is huge,” she said. “There are so many families and individuals affected by the flood in our community … that I think just being a support person in place to assist the volunteers is a huge piece of the puzzle.”
DRC vice-chairwoman Lynn Peterson, who said 227 advance claim forms have been handed in as of Thursday morning, said having someone like Chiappetta in place will help with the details, big and small, as the claims process and fundraising moves forward.
It became clear quickly the province, which will pick up the tab for the position, was right to recommend the hire, Peterson added.
“Obviously the whole issue of fundraising is massive,” Peterson said.
“Communication (is key) of course. We want to make sure that the community understands all the time what the steps are and how the process is going to unfold. We need to make it as easy for them as possible and that the entire community understands the magnitude of this disaster and the need for fundraising.
There are still plenty of people who think the money is sitting in a pot somewhere, free for the taking by the committee.
That isn’t so, said Peterson, reminding the public that only monies raised in the community can be matched two-for-one by the province.
The first of that money is scheduled to go out in the coming weeks, with a major deadline for claimants looming large.
Both Peterson and Chiappetta said the city plans to extend Monday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline to submit advance claims for $1,000 under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program until 8 p.m. that night, in order to handle an expected barrage of last-minute claims.
“We recognize that some people have not filled out the forms, or cannot fill out the forms, for whatever reason. So city hall will be open until 8 o’clock Monday night for those who have filled out their forms to bring in their identification and their form.
“And if they haven’t filled them in, bring in your identification and we will help you fill out the forms. We want to make sure the forms are in the hands of all those who need it and we’ll do whatever we need to do to make it happen.”
Peterson estimated about 1,500 forms were printed, with about half being taken at an open house two weekends ago at the Slovak Legion. However, it’s tough to estimate how many uninsured or inadequately insured victims plan to turn in forms, which are also available online.
The longer forms, for the full claim amounts, are due on Oct. 31.
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