The flood recovery efforts in Roche Percee were back in the spotlight Monday as NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter visited the village.
Lingenfelter met with civic officials from Roche Percee, as well as residents who have likely lost their homes, to hear their stories and ensure the provincial government is meeting their needs.
The veteran MLA said the residents are facing a number of issues and need quick action from the province with fall just around the corner.
“It’s a pretty serious situation for families who live in Roche Percee. People are concerned, and rightly so, about their property and getting it repaired and getting properly compensated,” said Lingenfelter.
“Even more important is the issues of families and children going to school and getting things more or less set up for September when school starts again so that the community is functioning as a community. (The community) is a family and what people are saying here is that as quickly as we can, get this thing back and functioning, and that is really important.”
The NDP has been somewhat critical of the province’s work in Roche Percee and issued a press release last week calling on the government to speed things up. Lingenfelter said he has been hearing mixed reports from those affected by the flooding.
“Some people are satisfied that the money is flowing relatively quickly, other people are saying we haven’t had satisfaction, but I am not saying that is unusual after you have a disaster like this. Even with the best of intentions things fall between the cracks. We encourage the Wall government to move as quickly as it can to get the infrastructure repaired. There is a massive project that has to be done in the next 30 or 40 days to get this community ready, first of all, for the school season but secondly ready for what is always a cold winter in Saskatchewan because many of these families are living in fifth-wheel trailers up in Bienfait, and that can last for a few more weeks, but after that you’ve got school and you’ve got winter, and I think a fifth-wheel trailer is not going to work real well.”
Aside from urging the government to increase the pace of its efforts, Lingenfelter said he wants the government to consult with Roche Percee residents about their future plans, including what they will do to make sure a flood of this magnitude does not strike them again.
“It’s one thing to say to people ‘here’s your $200,000 go and rebuild,’ but there are many questions people want answered before they make that decision. First of all, is there going to be better control of the water going forward. Were there contaminants in the water that came downstream from installations along the way or from sewage and water.
“On those topics there has been virtual silence from the government and I think there is a real need to come out here and have those meetings where those things are openly and transparently discussed with families.”
Roche Percee Mayor Reg Jahn was on hand for Lingenfelter’s visit and said after expressing concerns last week he has been happy with the attention they’ve received from the province.
“They have moved things up. We were told it would be 10 days before they could get an engineer down to look at our infrastructure and they were here three days later. Things like that really helped. The adjustors were here over the weekend and that was a big plus,” Jahn said.
“But the adjustors did say it could be three weeks before people are notified what their claim is. Three weeks is a long time. Kids will be back in school and that is really too late.”
Jahn said the Ministry of Highways has also dispatched a crew to Roche Percee to work on the road and bridge at the village’s north entrance, both of which suffered major damage in the flood.
“You couldn’t drive anymore than five miles an hour down this road a week ago. It has come a long ways. The Department of Highways and the people working for them have been super.”