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Bergen-area tornado victims getting some grant support

Municipal Affairs denies a Mountain View County application to the Disaster Recovery Program to help tornado victims cover property damage
MVT-Bergen area tornado follow-up 2
Chris Guilbeaut tosses a piece of damaged fence atop a pile on Monday, Aug. 29 at the Bergen-area property southeast of Sundre owned by Judy and John Bargholz, who were among the area's residents hit hard by the July 7 tornado-producing storm. He volunteered to join his dad Don Guilbeaut, background at left, who works IT for Westview Coop, which also provided a couple of other employees, Stephen Kennedy and Brian Moerke, who wanted to lend a hand. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county is pleased that victims of a tornado that caused widespread damage south of Sundre in early July will be getting some provincial support after all, according to reeve Angela Aalbers.

“We were pleased that minister (Jason) Nixon’s office did actually put out a communication to our residents that we are going to get a grant through Alberta Agriculture and Forestry,” said Aalbers during the Sept. 14 council meeting. “I think this is a huge win for our residents. I was really losing hope that we would get anything, so I think this is a really big benefit.

“I have already had a conversation with one of the residents who I think is taking it in the extreme way that it its meant, which is any money that I don’t have to spend on clearing up the trees is money that I can spend on other things that I have to.”

The July 7 tornado and storm caused extensive damage east of Bergen, including the destruction of many, many trees on private land.

On Sept. 8 the county was informed by provincial Municipal Affairs that a Disaster Recovery Program application for funding to help the tornado victims cover property damage had been denied.

In a follow-up letter to impacted residents, MLA and Minister of Finance Jason Nixon said the county’s application was denied because it did not meet the program’s eligibility criteria due to “insurance being readily and reasonably available."

“The county’s efforts to apply for funding, on behalf of affected landowners, through the provincial disaster recovery program is now complete and is unsuccessful,” Nixon said.

However, Nixon then went on to say that a different arrangement had been made to provide support.

“Although the Municipal Affairs programs did not apply to your situation, I am pleased to share that Agriculture and Forestry (has) agreed create a grant for Mountain View County to clean up the large areas of downed trees and debris that were caused by the tornado,” he said.

“This grant its intended to clear trees in order to prevent future fire and disease risk to the community and nearby forest reserve. Forestry officials will be in touch with the county to arrange details of this grant.

“I hope that this tree removal grant will help address some of the major remaining damage in the area.”

During her Sept. 14 report to council, reeve Aalbers said county officials expect to be moving forward with government officials in the coming days.

“Jeff (Holmes, county chief administrative officer) and his team will start to work with Agriculture and Forestry staff to help develop the grant framework,” said Aalbers.