FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is announcing further details on Disaster Financial Assistance to help New Brunswickers in need.

The Disaster Financial Assistance program provides assistance for eligible damages and losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals and communities.

“There is a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks and months to recover. We expect hurricane Fiona’s damage total will exceed the $35 million paid out for hurricane Dorian in 2019,” said Public Safety Minister Bill Hogan. “We are committed to making sure disaster financial assistance helps our friends and neighbours get back on their feet as fast as possible.”

Recovery process

Reporting damage to the government as soon as possible is the first step of the provincial assessment and recovery process.

Residents affected by property damage related to hurricane Fiona on Sept. 23 or 24 can report it by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.

The Service New Brunswick TeleServices line is available to receive calls between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Damage Report Line program allows residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to receive information and register their hurricane-related damage with a single phone call.

Damage assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams will be dispatched if required.

As of Sept. 28, the provincial government had received 164 damage reports. Damage has been reported in areas from the Nova Scotia border, along the Northumberland Strait to the Acadian Peninsula, including inland areas. Health and safety teams are already in the field, inspecting homes and businesses. These inspections are free but a damage report must be filed first. There are 112 requests for inspections; 13 were completed during the first day of operations.

Residents are reminded to:

  • Contact their insurance companies immediately to report damage.
  • Take photos of damage to their homes or properties.
  • Keep receipts of any repairs and replacement purchases.
  • Log the number of hours of work undertaken for residents who are cleaning their own properties, or family members or those who have assisted in the cleanup of their property.

Once they register, a Disaster Financial Assistance package will be mailed to them. Application packages are also available online, but residents must still register.

Satellite offices will be set up in affected areas in the coming days for people who want help in person with the application process.

The deadline for homeowners, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to submit an application is Jan. 31, 2023. They can call 1-888-553-8558 if they have questions.

In case of issues with the insurer, residents may call the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Insurance at 1-888-283-5111.

Disaster Financial Assistance

Residents, small business owners (including those in agriculture and aquaculture) and not-for-profit organizations are eligible.

Maximum claim limits by individuals for structural damages will be $200,000, while the maximum for small businesses and eligible not-for-profit organizations will be $500,000. Maximum monthly housing rental costs will be $1500, and advance payments for eligible claimants will be up to $20,000. Advance payments are issued where individuals could get back into their homes more quickly with early financial support after initial damage assessments. The previous limits of $160,000 for individuals, $1,000 monthly allowances for housing rentals, and $15,000 for advance payments were last updated in 2014.   

Assistance, when provided, is only available after all other forms of disaster aid have been received and only covers uninsurable loss. The Disaster Financial Assistance program does not pay for any damage or loss that is covered by an insurance policy. Claimants must contact their insurance provider first to determine if coverage will be provided. If affordable coverage was available and not purchased, the Disaster Financial Assistance claim cannot be approved.

Disaster Financial Assistance will assist in covering the costs of basic-needs items. For example, it will help pay for basic repairs of structural damage to a family home or small business. It will also cover costs for essential items such as:

  • Appliances that could not be removed from flood danger (for instance, a refrigerator, stove, washer or dryer).
  • Cleanup (labour to remove damaged materials and contents from basement).
  • Removing trees and objects that pose a safety threat.
  • Driveway repairs.
  • Retaining wall repairs.

More details are available online.

The program does not cover items such as:

  • Seasonal residences (cottages or camps) or recreational equipment such as boats, all-terrain vehicles or travel trailers.
  • Outbuildings, such as sheds, barns and detached garages.
  • Decks.
  • Erosion or landscaping.
  • Luxury items, such as jewellery.

Eligible not-for-profits and small businesses – including farms and others in agriculture and aquaculture – can also receive disaster financial assistance for damage to buildings, inventory and furnishings. Salaries, lost profits and insurable loss are not covered.