U.S. Labor Department waives requirements for British Columbians on unemployment benefits after flooding

(CNN) — The U.S. Department of Labor says the U.S. government will waive normally applicable requirements for British Columbians to receive unemployment insurance after severe flooding over the past few weeks devastated parts of the province.

The Labor Department said the extreme weather emergency declaration will allow covered workers to seek jobless benefits regardless of federal law or regulation in order to remain temporarily employed.

“Nearly 1,400 flood victims have lost their homes and livelihoods,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a statement. “The agency is taking steps to provide necessary assistance, as outlined by federal statute, as quickly as possible.”

Temporary Unemployment Assistance is a benefit program that is generally exempt from state regulations. Unemployed workers must be unable to find work within a month of losing a job and can receive as much as 59 weeks of benefits.

The department said under the normal rules, British Columbians would be required to file a claim on the federal unemployment insurance program, the Department of Labor said in a press release.

Affected workers who remain in jobs for no more than nine months without interruptions beyond a 70% complete closure of a facility for two consecutive business days can apply for benefits under the federal program, the department said.

Because of unusually low water levels, more than 140,000 workers have been forced to evacuate their homes and more than 2,400 structures have been damaged and destroyed by flooding. Floodwaters caused more than 100,000 electricity outages in B.C. and another 90,000 over the weekend.

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