WCDR: ‘Time to be less polite’

KINBURN – The West Carleton Disaster Relief (WCDR) team heard insurers are both an old and new problem for the hundreds still trying to go home following last fall’s devastating tornado.

The WCDR held a spring meeting at the West Carleton Community Complex last night (April 1) to assess how the community is holding up over the winter and to see what new challenges await heading in to spring.

“There’s a lot of frustration out there for people who weren’t frustrated before, but are now,” WCDR communications director Angela Bernhardt told West Carleton Online this morning (April 2). “It’s just heartbreaking.”

New stories are rising up through the old stories like fresh spring blooms as many, many families still struggle with their insurance companies as they try to rebuild their homes and return to some semblance of normal more than seven months after the Sept. 21 tornado.

“I really don’t know,” Bernhardt replied when asked how insurance can still be an issue more than half a year after the West Carleton community was devastated by a tornado. “We’re hearing stories of families just having their first meeting with their adjuster. People are being ignored. The pressure we’ve applied has been very polite so far. I think it’s time to be less polite.”

Stories of incompetent contractors being employed by insurers, abound. Slow to no progress on rebuilding is evident all over Dunrobin. Bills are piling up as families try to pay for a mortgage while also paying rent and other tornado-related expenses. Many feel they are being offered a settlement of far less value than the house that needs to be replaced.

“People who thought they were doing okay three months ago are now running in to issues,” Bernhardt said. “People are in this horrible limbo and they are feeling taken advantage of. This isn’t just us. We’re hearing the same stories in Arlington Woods. Everyone is being taken advantage of and it’s shameful. We’re here for them. We will advocate for them. They don’t have to do this alone.”

The WCDR isn’t exactly sure what they can do to help those still lacking support from their insurers.

“There are discussions of legal action,” Bernhardt said. “We’re at a bit of a loss on how to help them.”

The WCDR is planning on meeting early next week to discuss what they should do next on that front.

The meeting wasn’t all bad news though. Late winter has seen more large donations and funding come in. The West Carleton Warriors peewee A team were on hand to present a $100,000 cheque to the WCDR – money the team earned by winning this year’s Chevy Good Deeds Cup.

They were warmly received.

“It was really nice,” Bernhardt said. “There were three standing ovations and a lot of tears to be honest.”

“Wow, it was a special moment,” Warrior mom Shelley Welsh told West Carleton Online today. “I think being a part of this meeting has given an extra boost as to why we are continuing as a team for the upcoming clean ups and events. The boys have learned so much through the Good Deeds Cup program. These boys are the ‘face of hope’ right now for our community as told to us by so many. As parents, they couldn’t make us any more proud.”

Red Cross Canada also announced a funding partnership with the WCDR pledging an additional $207,000 to be managed by the WCDR.

“In total we have raised more than $600,000 and that’s amazing,” Bernhardt said. “But as far as our farmers our concerned, that’s still not enough to significantly help. Right now, we need to concentrate on the money we have and we need to make sure we allocate every penny appropriately.”

Other issues discussed at the meeting included tree felling and stump removal, tree replanting, soil contamination and remediation, septic inspections, farmer issues and lots of questions from the nearly 100 in attendance.

“We were under the impression we didn’t need more public meetings,” Bernhardt said. “But after last night, we might. A lot of people still need help. A lot of people still have questions. We need to really make sure people don’t forget we’re here for them. We’ve known from the very beginning, it’s going to take a long time.”

For more information on the WCDR, important dates and other important information, visit their website.

Photo by Shelley Welsh
Photo by Shelley Welsh