Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Joint Permit Assistance Program a welcome relief

More than a year after the Alberta flood, a Calgary senior feels hopeful for the first time as rebuilding finally begins on her home.

Janet Boyd says her renewed optimism is due, in part, to the financial support she is receiving from a program jointly funded by the Canadian Red Cross and The City of Calgary. Called the Flood Permit Grant Program, the initiative is being offered to residential property owners in Calgary who are facing financial challenges repairing, restoring or rebuilding their homes after the June 2013 flood.

Photo credit: J. Keith Howie, Canadian Red Cross
Launched on May 1, 2014, the program covers the costs of new City permits for such things as building, electrical and plumbing work required when repairing or rebuilding properties. Up to $7,000 in permit assistance per property is available to eligible home owners.

When the disaster occurred, Boyd evacuated her home with only a suitcase, expecting to be back in a few days. Instead, she lost everything when the Elbow River spilled its banks and filled her ground-floor, two-bedroom suite to within four inches of its ceiling. Since the flood, the feisty senior has had to rent accommodations while also struggling to pay mortgage and condominium fees for her flooded Mission-area home and any additional costs not covered b insurance or the Disaster Recovery Program.

As workers began framing new walls for her suite recently, Boyd explained that it has taken a year to navigate insurance and other challenges.

“It was so overwhelming. I just didn’t know where to start, what to do next. That’s why I am so grateful to the Red Cross because mentally and financially, they have been so wonderful to me.”

The joint permit grant program for flood-impacted homeowners is welcome assistance, said Boyd. The initiative is covering approximately $1,500 in fees for plumbing, electrical and building permits.

“It’s been great, we went straight to the front of the line at city hall and had all her permit costs covered,” said Boyd’s son, Peter, who is helping his mother with the rebuilding process.

Photo credit: J. Keith Howie, Canadian Red Cross
Janet said every dollar helps when people are trying to manage on a budget. “Not everyone has huge savings and we are really very grateful to The City and Red Cross for helping out in this way.”

Now that she has the required permits, Boyd is looking forward to the rebuilding and restoring what few possessions her son was able to retrieve.

“My furniture, my photos and mementoes that I had saved all my life, everything was destroyed,” Boyd recalled recently, picking through two crates of silt-covered belongings that her son, Peter, managed to rescue.

“I just can’t look or I’ll be sniffling,” said Boyd of the crates, which hold a bowl she got from her mother and a teddy bear her son had as a child. “It’s all coated in mud. It’s almost impossible to get that fine dirt off.”

Calgarians interested in applying for the permit program can contact Red Cross at 1-866-696-6484. Red Cross will work with each applicant to discuss and assess their unique situation and needs. The permit program is not retroactive but Red Cross can work with families and individuals struggling to meet other needs.

Read more about Janet Boyd's story on the Canadian Red Cross website.

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