Ontario government helps St. Catharines with flood recovery efforts


St. Catharines receives $600,000 relief fund to be distributed among residents, farmers and local businesses hit by last summer’s severe rain storms

On Nov. 11, the City of St. Catharines announced a much needed $600,000 from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) to help residents and local businesses affected by last summer’s severe rain storms on the 28 and 29 of July.

“I am very pleased that the province is providing support for individuals and families affected by the summer flooding,” said Jim Bradley, the MPP for St. Catharines.  ODRAP is administered by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Relief funds are also being distributed to charitable organizations, farmers, and non-profit organizations.

“By stepping up and helping affected homeowners, the Government of Ontario is demonstrating its willingness to partner with affected communities, dealing with the effects of climate change,” Mr. Bradley said.  Under the program, City Council will appoint a disaster relief committee to review and settle claims, lead fundraising efforts and determine how the relief funds will be distributed. Ministry staff will also be working alongside the committee.

“I want to congratulate the extraordinary effort of emergency workers and residents in this community.  Ontario stands with our cities, towns and citizens when they are in great need,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  The severe rain storms in late July hit the entire Niagara Region, especially communities in west St.  Catharines, east Lincoln and north Pelham.

Some areas saw as much as 75 millimetres of rain.  Environment Canada reported a total of 110 millimetres that fell across southern Ontario over those two days.  Sandra Allan remembers the storm well, saying it was unlike anything she had experienced in her six decades of living in St. Catharines.

“It was really, really heavy,” Ms. Allan said. “It also backed up onto the sun porch roof and some came into the house.”

In total, the Ontario government has allocated $6.8 million under ODRAP to help communities recover from natural disasters in the spring and summer of 2014.  However, only those municipalities unable to manage the financial costs of the damages will receive funds.  The province has divided the relief program into a public and private component. The public component will allow municipalities to recover 100 per cent of their emergency response and infrastructure repair costs while the private component gives financial assistance to businesses and local farmers. The province will also match any funds raised by the community.

Three other communities are also receiving disaster assistance. The City of Burlington will receive $3 million to help recover from a severe flood on Aug. 4, 2014.  The Municipality of Lambton Shores will get $720,000 for a tornado on July 27 and the townships of Emo, Fort Frances, La Valle and Rainy River are receiving a combined total of $2.47 million.

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