Officials admit to sacrificing homes in High River
Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:54AM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:23PM MDT
Residents in two High River neighbourhoods got the recognition they were looking for from High River officials, but the province is standing strong, saying there won’t be any money to relocate them.
At a closed door meeting held on Friday night, Darwin Durnie, who works with the town’s Emergency Operating Centre, admitted to surrounding homes in Sunrise and Hampton Hills with a berm.
He said the decision was made to save other homes from the flooding.
Residents there understand the decision and accept it, but they’re demanding the province step up and do something about their homes which sat in water for more than 20 days and cannot be recovered.
“We’re all okay with that – berm us off if it’s going to save others and possibly some lives – but don’t act like we are not a special case,” says Brian Crundwell.
Crundwell, a retired contractor, paid cash for his home and spent just one night in his dream retirement home before flooding took it away.
“We invested heavily in this house, looking forward to our future. What’s it worth now? I can’t tell you, but certainly a lot less that it was on June 19.”
He, like many others, is looking for the province to buy out the property and provide the means to relocate them elsewhere.
However, according to the province, the neighbourhoods aren’t considered to be inside the floodway and that changes things considerably in terms of compensation.
Doug Griffiths, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, says that programs are in place to help people rebuild, but if they don’t want to live there anymore, they can sell the home.
However, with mold covering the floors and a rotting stench thick in the air, it’s hard to imagine how the owners could ever find a buyer.
Durnie sent an e-mail statement on Tuesday night apologizing for creating a distraction from the main issue of rebuilding the community.
My aim was simply to arm people with information that would allow them to work with government and insurance advisors to rebuild their lives. I regret creating this distraction and I sincerely hope that, tomorrow, we can continue to focus on our reconstruction efforts.
He adds that he is unhappy with his choice of words during the meeting.
A townhall meeting is being held in High River on Wednesday night at the Rodeo Grounds for residents.