NEWS
06/20/2016 14:28 EDT | Updated 06/21/2017 01:12 EDT

Northeastern B.C. residents gather at town halls to learn about financial help

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — Residents of two flood-ravaged communities in northeastern British Columbia will gather to learn how to apply for disaster financial assistance.

A town hall will be held at the local sports arena in Dawson Creek Monday night, and people in Chetwynd, about 100 kilometres west of there, will meet on Tuesday.

Financial assistance is available to homeowners, residential tenants, small business owners, farmers, charitable organizations and local government bodies that could not get insurance to cover disaster-­related losses.

Brad Sperling, vice-chairman of the Peace River Regional District, said each community will also open a centre where residents can get help filling out applications and be referred to other services.

Sperling said 213 people southeast of Dawson Creek remain stuck in the rural area after roads were washed out during last week's record-breaking rainfall.

"We have been taking things like generators, fuel and food to them," he said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said staff, contract workers and volunteers are making progress on road repairs.

"Construction crews and heavy equipment are working day and night to rebuild sections of highways and roads that were severely damaged by massive flooding in northern B.C.," he said in a statement.

"Five of the six numbered highways closed by the flooding are now open," he said, adding Highway 97 south from Pine Pass to Chetwynd is expected to open to single-lane alternating traffic by Saturday.

"Highway 2 in Dawson Creek is now open to two lanes with traffic control and crews are working hard to restore the highway to four lanes by next week."

Crews are at a total of 130 repair sites, mostly in the south Peace area.

Premier Christy Clark said the province will spend $65 million on flood mitigation projects this year and that she'd like to see the federal government do more to avert such disasters.

Clark called on Ottawa to put more money into programs aimed at preventing floods or wildfires, saying that would reduce costs in the long term.