IMPACT

Lac-Megantic 2013 Disaster Has Cost Red Cross $12 Million

07/02/2015 03:15 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Nearly two years after a tragic train derailment decimated Lac-Megantic, the Red Cross says it has helped more than half the residents in the Quebec town.

Nearly $12 million has been spent on providing assistance to 3,236 people in the Quebec community of just under 6,000, the aid organization said Thursday.

Forty-seven people were killed and a large swath of downtown Lac-Megantic was destroyed in July 2013 when an unmanned 72-car train jumped the track, spilling and igniting some six million litres of volatile crude oil.

Red Cross officials presented the figures during a news conference, accompanied by Mayor Colette Roy Laroche.

The organization said it has raised nearly $15 million, of which $4.3 million went to those left homeless or jobless after the disaster as well as the families of those who died.

Some 250 people lost their jobs and an equal number of business owners were affected, the Red Cross said.

Nearly $2 million has also been spent on the economic relaunch of the community and donations are still being accepted.

In the coming years, the agency plans to spend another $2.8 million, including $1.4 million in reconstruction costs.

Michel Leveille, director general of the Red Cross in Quebec, said the organization has had to approach the situation in a completely different way, given the scale and magnitude of the disaster.

He compared it to the 1996 floods in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, where the organization had a long-term presence.

Locals are also waiting to hear what becomes of a court settlement, where about 25 companies accused of responsibility have put up a fund of $431.5 million.

The deal was unanimously accepted by victims and creditors in June, but one of the companies, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX:CP) has asked a Quebec judge to nix the deal, arguing that its terms are unfair toward the rail company.

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