Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the flood of 2021 was extraordinary, and they caused life-altering hardships for so many residents, families, and communities. I am very pleased to advise that the majority of these who were impacted are now in their homes.
I would like to acknowledge the commitment and effort of the local leadership in the flooded-affected communities. It has been nearly a year since the flooding took place, and during that time leaders have been carrying out the day-to-day business of running the community government while also being shouldered with the aftermath of the flood.
This government thanks you for your efforts and your resilience. As the ice broke on the Mackenzie River and Little Buffalo River last spring, residents in several small communities witnessed the devastation as the water and ice conditions to rise and destroy or damage homes, businesses, and community infrastructure throughout the South Slave and Deh Cho regions.
As communities in the South Slave and Deh Cho region were flooding, communities to the north were able to learn in real time from their neighbors and implement response measures that helped to reduce the damage caused by these floods.
In total, the GNWT has addressed approximately 140 structures owned by private residents, small businesses, non-government organizations, and community governments - either damaged or destroyed. We have processed disaster assistance claims from impacted residents and organizations which has helped repair and replace some of those that have been lost.
The challenges caused by these floods are beyond what the Northwest Territories has experienced in the past and our government met these challenges with extraordinary and unprecedented recovery measures.
We took a centralized approach to support the recovery efforts, which allowed the GNWT to cover the repairs or replacement costs of homes. To manage those massive repair and rebuilding efforts, the GNWT coordinated contractors to complete 28 repairs, 18 home replacements in Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson, Little Buffalo, and Fort Good Hope. The total cost to the GNWT was approximately $39 million.
Work is underway to change how the GNWT undertakes disaster recovery work and how we provide disaster assistance in the future. We are conducting an after-action assessment of the 2021 flood response.
Mr. Speaker, we have learned many valuable lessons over the last year, and those lessons are helping us prepare as we must turn our attention to this year's flood season. With spring breakup coming soon, so too is the risk of more flooding in many NWT communities. No matter the water level, ice jams can cause flooding at any time. All of us, from individuals, to families, to businesses, to government, need to be ready for the possibility of flood every single year.
Throughout the winter, all emergency management partners have been doing their part to prepare for this spring. Last summer, community governments have worked hard to prepare for the upcoming flood season. Our government has been supporting this work, and communities are ready and equipped to handle the next emergency no matter when it comes.
Our emergency management staff are working closely with local governments to ensure their emergency plans are up to date. They have offered training to local governments on emergency management and are prepared to jump in and assist should local governments need it.
Mr. Speaker, being ready for emergencies is not just about government. It is about every resident's responsibility to be prepared before an emergency strikes. Our role as government is to ensure that residents understand that risk, are informed about what is happening, and are equipped with the tools that they need to stay safe and help if they can in the event of an emergency.
The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is rolling out a social marketing campaign called Be Ready NWT. It will appeal to the community's values and responsibilities we have to each other. It provides us with the information and the tools we need to be ready for any disaster.
We are making significant investment to make sure those messages reach all residents, using a variety of platforms - radio, social media, and newsprint.
Let us all work together to help our constituents be ready as we prepare for the upcoming flood and wildfire season this spring and summer.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.