MUD LAKE, N.L. — Over a year after the flood that damaged many homes and cabins in Mud Lake, Bill Keeping and his wife Carolyn finally got an answer.
The question was whether their residence there, which they visit over 100 times every year, would be covered under the Newfoundland and Labrador Disaster Financial Assistance Program for the flooding.
The answer was no.
Keeping said that answer wasn’t a surprise to him, but he wished it hadn’t taken so long to find out.
“If they had just said no that would have been one thing,” he said. “But it took a year and we had to keep jumping through all these hoops on the chance we might get some assistance for all the damage.”
Keeping said they had to submit a lot of information to the government, for nothing it turned out. He said they were hoping to get something as assistance from the government for all the damage, which included wet insulation, warped pine and paneling, and wet furniture, which all had to be replaced. They never expected as much assistance as the permanent residents, he said, just some help with some of the damages.
He said as far as he knows there are five secondary homes in the same situation, having to simply eat the costs of the damage.
Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Andrew Parsons told the Labradorian what took so long was that the provincial government was exhausting all options.
“We’ve been dealing with the feds on this, trying to work with them throughout the relief program, though the disaster financial assistance and unfortunately seasonal properties are, according to the federal government, outside the guidelines,” he said. “Their assistance is based on necessity, so we don’t have positive news for those individuals as it relates to seasonal properties. “
The Newfoundland and Labrador Disaster Financial Assistance Program is administered by the province but is federally funded. It has strict criteria, including that only primary residences are covered.
Keeping said he never really considered it a secondary home, both because of the amount of time they spend there and also the process he had to go through to build the structure.
“I went to Crown Lands and told them I wanted to build a cabin in Mud Lake. They told me I can’t build a cabin; it has to be a residence. So the community had to vote and we got a letter from them to give to the government to allow us to build. So why was a it residence then and not now? That makes no sense,” Keeping said.
They had to get the land granted to them for 99 years by the provincial government and cleared the plot, building the 20 x 30 home themselves.
“We spend every weekend, we go over there hunting, I love hunting,” he said. “That was one of the reasons we built it, I spent so much time hunting and fishing we figured we may as well build a spot.”
Keeping said after looking at the regulations regarding the program he didn’t expect any assistance but just wanted a straight answer one way or another.
“I keep calling the province and the MHA and just kept getting told to wait, wait, wait, always wait. We kept having to submit forms and pictures and whatnot and it felt like we were just getting brushed off,” he said. “We sent letters to Perry (Trimper, MHA for Lake Melville), to the provincial government, anyone we could think of and it seemed like we were getting nowhere.”
Keeping wanted to stress he understood Trimper and his staff did all they could but said it just took too long. He felt part of the delay was because the province wanted to wait and see if it happened again this year.
“I figured if Mud Lake flooded again this year they would’ve tried to buy everybody out and make us move,” he said. “That’s just my theory. They wanted to wait and see.”
If it does flood again in the future, Keeping said he’s not sure what he will do.
“I can’t afford this again,” he said. “I might be able to absorb it, but I doubt it.”