KOA Campground owner Has Koria watches a repair crew works on his property west of Winnipeg Saturday April 21, 2012. Koria is upset that the province will not give him assistance for damage to his property following the flood of 2011.
Credits: BRIAN DONOGH/WINNIPEG SUN/QMI AGENCY
The losses to the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent's tax roll are some 200 properties assessed in total at $14.6 million. And to those who live or have cottages here, what's gone is something more that can't be measured -- particularly as a waiting game over government compensation drags on.
"People here are just completely ripped apart," Earl Zotter, St. Laurent's reeve, told QMI of the owners of the battered beach houses about a 45-minute drive northwest of Winnipeg.
"People now are getting to the point where their last spark of hope is fading. With the lag time going on here with compensation programs, people are very, very tired. ... There are people who are just outright saying they can't come back."
To one of the cottagers, the frustration over what he calls a "very slow" compensation process is compounded by the sight of what was left behind by the surging, wind-whipped water in May and June of last year.
"There is so much stuff in the sand -- broken glass and everything that got taken down in the storm. There were boat houses all along here, and everything that was in them is now under the sand," Bob, a cottage owner here for 41 years, said while asking that his last name not be published.
"It's terrible. There are lots of cottages that are totally destroyed," the Winnipeg resident added. "Will it ever be rebuilt? I'm not sure it will be, because there are an awful lot of seniors here who likely are not capable of doing too much."
Facing perhaps as much as $50,000 in flood costs, Bob is among the owners who say they should have known by now what funds will be available, and how soon, following the provincial government's use of the Portage Diversion last spring to pour water into the lake from the raging Assiniboine River.
Zotter charged that potential compensation from the Water Stewardship Department for flood mitigation "is a little bit sketchy at this time, due to the numbers tossed at people" about a requirement that some owners raise their houses to a lake level of up to 822 feet -- far above the 810.5 to 812.5 feet that he said it "should be controlled at" by the province.
Steve Ashton, minister responsible for flood issues, was unavailable for comment. However, provincial spokesman Jean-Marc Prevost confirmed that "for the level that the lake got to during the flood, you have to rebuild to that level" to qualify for funds of up to 86% of the cost.
He added that the province is making "unprecedented flood mitigation and compensation" available due to the disaster, which caused about $1 billion in destruction across Manitoba.
"We understand the stress and frustration of those still struggling with the impacts of the 2011 flood and are working hard to help people rebuild and get their lives back to normal," Prevost said, adding that "we will continue to add resources where we identify hold-ups."