HIGH RIVER FLOOD

A Personal Look at the 2013 Alberta Floods

June 2013

In the last week of June 2013, many areas of central/southern Alberta were hit by a disastrous flood. The community of High River was hit especially hard, with over 95% of the population’s businesses and residences being effected by flood damage.

My oldest sister and her family live in High River in the neighbourhood that took the brunt of the damage, the Hampton Hills. While this area of town is not in the flood plain, the rising waters overwhelmed the town’s sewage systems and forced the storm drains to overflow into the neighbourhood. For three weeks, while floodwater in other areas of town receded and residents were able to begin recovery of their homes, the Hampton Hills stood metres deep in sewage. The government threw resources into pumping the water out of this area but the sheer magnitude of this task left residents and officials frustrated with the timeframe required to clear the area.

With tensions high and people barred from their home for weeks without much communication, the government allowed residents to return to assess their homes and salvage what they could. I visited High River to help my sister, her family and friends to get out what we could from their home.

Mess

The devastation, destruction and depression were visible on the streets of the Hampton Hills: toxic dust swirling down the streets flying off roads, lawns, houses and fences all caked in sewage silt, piles of unsalvageable memories laying in the street being scooped up by backhoes and trucks, the stench of rotting kitchens, cracking land, moulding floors and couches and carpets and walls.

The Road Ahead

While the lack of government communication and logistical support has been a major frustration for Hampton Hills residents, personal support for my sister and her family has been overwhelming. In only two hours friends and family members managed to scour the house for salvageable items, clean them off, cart them out and pack them up. It was only an hour after we walked out the door that Alberta Health declared the house “unfit for human habitation” and barred all entry into the premises.

The road ahead for this neighbourhood and the town of High River will be a difficult one and will need your thoughts, prayers and support.