Flooded Exshaw residents will not receive disaster relief funding: Province
EXSHAW, ALTA. -- Residents who experienced spring flooding in Exshaw, Alta. will not receive disaster relief funds from the provincial government following a report from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA).
Nearly two dozen homes were affected by flooding that started in late-May and early-June in the hamlet located about an hour west of Calgary.
Kelly Suchan’s basement started flooding in May and he says it took eight pumps more than a month to remove the water that was bubbling up from the ground.
“I was inundated with water,” Suchan told CTV News on Wednesday. “The amount of water I moved out of this basement was just incredible.”
The flooding Exshaw residents experienced was “not extraordinary or widespread in nature,” according to a letter from Alberta Municipal Affairs. The letter says the cause of the flood was likely rainwater and snow, but residents dispute that.
“It’s disappointing for sure, but it’s not surprising. They say it was caused by rainwater, but, really, what rain water? We never got a lot of rain,” said Suchan.
He and other residents have mused whether a recent flood mitigation project on nearby Exshaw Creek is to blame — but officials disagree.
The AEMA report says the $10 million mitigation effort “most likely did not contribute to this year’s groundwater intrusion.”
“These groundwater situations present periodically, but not specifically. In other words, about every seven years we have an event, this one was of higher intensity,” said Municipal District of Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper.
Though residents will not receive provincial disaster recovery money, the MD of Bighorn was approved for $50,000 in funding to cover about 40 per cent of its costs for equipment and cleanup.
As the snow starts to fall and accumulate again, residents say they are already nervous for next year. Vicki Fleetwood’s basement had water in it up to her waist, she said, and it took about five months to completely dry out.
“Everybody is understandably very anxious for next season. We’re all kind of expecting to see the same problem again,” Fleetwood said.
The MD of Bighorn has hired a hydrogeologist to confirm the cause of the flooding. The report was originally supposed to be completed in July, but has been delayed several times. Cooper says the report is now expected to be completed by the end of October.