Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Wayne Fletcher, co-chairman of the Thunder Bay and District Disaster Relief Committee.
Knowing they won’t be able to start making payments for several more months, the head of the Thunder Bay and District Disaster Relief Committee says they’re extending the slogging fundraising deadline until Jan. 13, 2013.
DRC co-chair Wayne Fletcher said more time will be needed to process and vet up to 1,000 claims expected to roll in between now and the end of the month deadline to file. Thus it made no sense to stop collecting donations, which will be matched 2-for-1 by the province.
The fundraising total as of Thursday was $1.08 million, well short of their stated $5-million goal. That's about $12,000 more than they'd collected a week ago.
“We’ll continue fundraising until the end of January so we can generate more money to get more money out of the province so we can actually do a better job at meeting the needs of individuals,” Fletcher said.
With just 100 forms submitted to date, Fletcher said it quickly became apparent their timeframe to distribute claimants’ money was a bit too aggressive.
“We realized we’re not going to be able to process these claims quick enough, so we figured why not raise more money,” he said.
They also appear to have underestimated the amount of time it takes to process a claim.
“We had a group look at about 20 of them and they figured that it’s hours per claim to go over things,” Fletcher said. “And then those are the ones that are fairly straightforward. The ones that we’re going to have to use the adjudicators, that will even take longer.
“If we’re looking at potentially up to maybe 1,000 claims, at least 700, that’s going to take a long time to go through that.”
Only residents affected by the May 28 flood and sewage back-up disaster that struck Thunder Bay who weren’t adequately covered by insurance, had no insurance or could not get insurance because of where they lived, are eligible to claim.
City officials have estimated it will cost between $15 million and $20 million to repair the damage to homes, mostly in the city’s East End and in Northwood.
Payouts will be based on the total claim amount, with successful getting a claimants getting a percentage of their approved claim that reflects the city’s fundraising totals as matched to the $5-million goal.
“We have to make sure it’s fair and equitable and we have to make sure they’re legitimate claims,” Fletcher said.
The deadline to file a long-form claim has not changed and was set under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.