NORTH RIVER - Premier Darrell Dexter returned to Colchester County yesterday to discuss repairs to areas damaged by recent flooding and to help develop an action plan to ensure families and business owners do not have their lives disrupted every time there is heavy rain.
Dexter met with Truro Mayor Bill Mills, Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor and all agreed that something needs to be done and it needs to be done together.
"When something like (major flooding) happens it's usually viewed as a municipal matter and it should be left as a municipal matter, but I think that denies the facts that many people built homes as they thought they were protected by the dikes," said Dexter, following his meeting with the two mayors. "We can't deny they're there and I think it's the province's job to sort through all kinds of issues and assist residents so they can live their lives in basic safety and security."
Staff from the Emergency Management Office met with staff from other provincial departments, the municipality and the federal government, to share flooding information from the past three decades.
During the meeting, there were a number of issues brought forth and a joint working group will soon be established to create a plan and schedule, and to implement that plan.
With a section of the berm in North River behind Molly's Dairy Bar already fixed, the work on the biggest part that was breached could be done by early next week on the province's tab.
"We don't have the right to go on private property, but we got the owner's permission to do this work," said Dexter. "When landowners build something like this we hope they have the ability to fix it if something happens. Once the work is done, it will revert right back to the private property owner."
Most of the disaster assessments have been completed, which Dexter said exceeds the $1 million needed to apply for disaster relief funding through the federal government.
"This flooding has been happening for too long," he said in a news release. "The people of Truro deserve a more permanent solution to this problem.
"We need to fix the infrastructure we have now, and look at what new infrastructure we need, to fix this problem for the long-term. That's what will solve this issue for the residents of Truro,"
For Taylor, the premier is just the man who can get the ball rolling on relief funding.
"Premier Dexter is aware of the damage that's been done and we have reached that threshold," said Taylor. "We've talked about immediate plans and this is a start."
Taylor said the county has waited for years for something to be done about the flooding issues.
"For the premier to have direct work on this I think it's super."
Mills said the biggest thing that came out of the meeting with the premier is that Dexter agreed with almost all the suggestions.
"One of the things we're going to look at is with the Department of Natural Resources and the issue of clear cutting 20 miles or more outside of Truro," said Mills. "We're going to look at the most affected areas and see if we can implement a reforestation program."
Molly's Dairy Bar owner Beverly Whidden is cautioning her customers about the shoreline behind her business.
"We put the sign up right after the flooding because, as you can see, the shoreline has been depleted. It's too dangerous for people, including kids, to go down there," she said.
Working by herself the day the berm was breached, Whidden said she could clearly hear it when it happened.
"All I could hear was a big boom. I looked out the back window and saw this big gush of water coming at me."