HIGH RIVER, AB (June 20, 2014): Today, Wildrose Leader and Highwood MLA Danielle Smith issued the following statement commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2013 Alberta floods:
“One year ago today, the most devastating natural disaster in Canadian history began right here in our own backyard.
“Powerful flood waters surged through Calgary and several other communities in southern Alberta, uprooting railway tracks, sweeping away cars and houses, and battering roads and highways. For four days, our neighbourhoods were thrown into chaos and destruction as unprecedented water levels destroyed everything in their path. The flood displaced over 100,000 Albertans from their homes and communities, and separated them from their loved ones. Today, many Albertans are still picking up the pieces as they rebuild.
“My hometown of High River was hit particularly hard, with about three quarters of the homes in town damaged by flood waters. A year later, I still see daily reminders – boarded up houses and abandoned properties – of the flood that tore through our community.
“In the aftermath, many things were done right that saved lives and mitigated further damage and tragedy. Today, I think of the brave emergency responders and the thousands of selfless volunteers and heroes who descended on our streets to help their fellow Albertans in their hour of need. Our big hearts beat loudly in the initial hours and days immediately after the flood, and we can now look back on those days with pride.
“Unfortunately, many things went wrong. Early on, Albertans immediately asked why the government shelved and ignored a flood mitigation report drafted seven years earlier that contained recommendations which would have reduced the devastation.
“The government granted sole-sourced contracts, some of which are now under investigation by the Auditor General after numerous questions were raised about the process for awarding the contracts and their excessive cost. Perhaps the biggest failure has been the Disaster Recovery Program. Many claims are still outstanding to this day. Ultimately, the DRP proved to be needlessly burdensome when Albertans needed clarity and efficiency most.
“However, in the end, the devastating events of last year brought out the best in Albertans. The 2013 floods will be remembered as the moment in time Albertans showed the world who we really are. When disaster struck, you didn’t have to look very far to see ordinary Albertans showing extraordinary strength, courage and kindness.
“As we reflect on this somber anniversary, let us remember those who lost their lives, let us strive to support those still rebuilding, and let celebrate how we came together as a province and a people like never before.”