Thunder Bay and Area Disaster Relief Committee co-chairman Wayne Fletcher on Tuesday accepted a $15,000 cheque from the Thunder Bay Plumbers, Steamfitters and Welders Union Local 628 for the disaster relief fund. The money came from the Unionized Piping Trades of Onatario ($10,000) and the Canadian Offie of Unionized Piping Trades ($5,000).
The Thunder Bay and Area Disaster Relief Fund is in crunch time.
With nine days to go before their self-imposed collection deadline arises, co-chairman Wayne Fletcher said they’ve raised about $1.32 million to date.
With non-matching funds added to the kitty and the province tripling money raised by the committee through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance program, Fletcher said that means they’ll likely have about $4 million to hand out to victims of the May 28 flood and sewage back-up disaster.
Of course that number will likely grow between now and Jan. 31, he added.
As impressive a figure as the final tally might be, Fletcher cautioned the committee won’t be able to cover everyone’s full losses.
“I can tell you very well there’s no way we’re going to be able to meet the demand 100 per cent,” he said, “even though we over-estimated.
“We may not need $25 million, but we could probably use $7 million to $10 million easily enough and I doubt we’ll get to $7 million or $10 million.”
Originally the DRF set a $5 million fundraising goal. Under ODRAP rules, the committee can pay verified claims up to 90 per cent of their value, but that number drops based on the percentage of money actually raised.
“I don’t think we have to worry about getting to 90 per cent because we won’t. Once we know the full dollar value we can divide through and we can get a percentage.”
Fletcher said it will be an ongoing education process with victims about how the process works.
“I think it’s important that people realize this is a group of volunteers administrating a set of rules that have been set out by the province.
“Part of our job will be to make sure individual claimants actually understand. They’ll get a sheet that will explain what they asked for, what it’s adjusted to and of course, the percentage payout when they get their money.”
Fletcher, who collected an additional $15,000 on Tuesday from Thunder Bay Plumbers, Steamfitters and Welders Union Local 628, said it’s looking like it will be at least a month after the Jan. 31 deadline before people start to see their claims paid out.
Complicating the matter is the fact a number of claims have been sent off to a Toronto adjudicator for approval.
“It looks like we’re trying to shoot for the end of February to try to have everything done, but we can’t control the company in Toronto. So our goal is to try to have all the paperwork done by the end of February so we can start paying out in March,” Fletcher said.
Dougall Media will be hosting a second radio-thon next Wednesday at Intercity Shopping Centre to aid the Disaster Relief Fund.
A similar effort last summer, with matching funds included, raised more than $260,000.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.