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Dorian costs adding up for City of Summerside

Cory Adams watches for falling debris as Donnie DesRoches uses his chainsaw, on the roof of a home on Poplar Street in Summerside, to remove a large tree that had fallen during the night. The two men were helping a neighbour clean up Sunday morning in the aftermath of hurricane Dorian, which hit the Maritimes overnight.
Dorian cleanup. - Brad Works

The bills are still being added up, but the City of Summerside estimates hurricane Dorian clean-up costs could reach as much as $500,000.

Between overtime for staff, hiring contractors to help with the cleanup and repairs to infrastructure damage, the storm’s financial hit is expected to range between $250,000 and $500,000.

Bob Ashley, the city’s chief administrative officer, stressed that number is preliminary and subject to change. The cleanup continues, he said.

“We’re still discovering new things every day.”

Summerside was hard hit by Dorian, he added, but the cleanup is progressing well.

“I would say we didn’t fare very well (in the storm) but we’re recovering quite well,” he said.

The city could be eligible for provincial and federal assistance with the cleanup efforts, added Ashley, but those discussions are still in the early stages.

Both Summerside Electric and Maritime Electric have stated that all customers who lost power during Dorian have now been restored, with the exception of a few isolated homes and cottages.

Maritime Electric Spokesperson Kim Griffin said the last outage was fixed at 3 a.m. Monday on the eastern end of the Island.

“We’re happy to say goodbye to Dorian, I can tell you that,” said Griffin.

“The big problem for us was the hundreds and hundreds of trees down on the lines.”

Around 100 poles were broken or damaged, of the company’s 130,000. The initial assessments took a day and a half and used three helicopter flights.

“It was the largest (storm) we’ve seen for trees down and property damage.”

Griffin said there is still much work to be done. Crews plan to return to many locations to finish clean-up now that the initial “poles in the ground” work is complete. Crews will also be able to return to the day-to-day work that has been on hold for over a week.

Most of the damage to Summerside’s infrastructure was in relation to trees falling on power lines, but there was some other wind damage, including roof damage to the fire hall and lost shingles on the police station. The city’s parks were also hit hard and lost many trees which will take some time to clean up.

The city’s drop-off location for tree debris has been well used by residents. That site will have to be remediated sometime in the future.

Ashley added that Dorian has cut into city staff’s normal late summer/early fall duties, so work they would have normally been doing has been sidelined for now.

The province has also announced a financial assistance program for Islanders trying to deal with Dorian’s aftermath.

The assistance program will also apply to small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and municipal governments, according to Premier Dennis King.

Provincial cabinet met Friday to start activating the program, which also triggers access to federal disaster relief funding. Further details about how and where Islanders can apply for financial assistance will be announced in the coming week.

Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson has requested assistance in the form of funding from Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Islanders are encouraged to document any repairs with videos, pictures and to make sure they keep their receipts

The province has also announced that Individuals on social assistance can apply for assistance. Individuals can receive $110, couples can receive $140 and an additional $30 for each dependent.

A budget of $500,000 has been budgeted for these one-time payouts.

With files from The Guardian.

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