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N.S. opposition call on government to buy back homes severely damaged in floods citing safety concerns

A quick tour of the Oxford’s house on Union Street in Bedford, N.S., offers a window into just how much water rushed in on July 21 and July 22.

“Water coming in under the door there and through the patio door there and cascading down the basement steps,” said David Oxford.

Their street, just behind Bedford Place Mall, was under water amid the July flash floods.

The night of the torrential downpour, resident Saba Al-Alam escaped with his children.

“The water was up to my chest when I was leaving this house, and I’m worried about it happening again,” Al-Alam said.

Some homeowners want the province to buy their properties, citing safety concerns. The Liberals are pushing for it to happen as well.

“What we’re asking for is the provincial government to purchase the homes of people who’ve had them flooded out repeatedly, or of which sustained very serious damage in the most recent floods,” said Kelly Regan, the Liberal MLA for the area.

Regan notes the province did buy homes in Sydney following the 2016 floods, and how along Union Street many homes are now uninsurable.

Some homeowners like Al-Alam are paying mortgages on houses that aren’t currently livable.

The homeowner points out it wasn’t just a foot of water that entered into his house, but instead around seven feet of water.

“I should never come back to this house. All the houses on this street should be a write-off,” he said.

“If that option was put on the table I would give it due consideration. I would also give consideration to fixing the house up,” said resident David Oxford.

As the Oxfords start to rebuild, timing of any potential offer matters.

“It would be a shame to repair all of this, then they come with the offer and it’s torn down,” said Claudette Oxford.

The potential of an offer also matters.

“If the government’s willing to tax me at $335,000 then certainly they should offer at least that for my property,” said David Oxford, noting people have been selling homes on the street for $550,000.

Krista Higdon, a provincial spokesperson for the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing said any decision to purchase affected properties would require an in-depth analysis of current impacts and potential future risks.

“In the future, it is expected that flood insurance will be more widely available to homeowners in Nova Scotia,” said Higdon.

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