HIGH RIVER, AB (July 22, 2013): Today, Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith sent a letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths requesting that residents of Hampton Hills and Sunrise in High River be offered the same opportunity to relocate on terms equal to any residents who are listed on a floodway.
According to the current published guidelines of the Disaster Recovery Program, residents in Hampton Hills and Sunrise do not qualify for relocation either within or outside of High River. In recent town halls with Smith, Hampton Hills and Sunrise residents have expressed their frustration over the lack of progress in their communities from recent flooding. A total of 133 homeowners in both communities said they wish to be bought out of their current homes so they can start the process of moving or rebuilding. “Earlier this month in an interview about the province’s disaster relief program, Premier Alison Redford said, ‘everyone’s circumstances will be unique.’ Well, these communities are unique cases that demand unique solutions,” Smith said. “These communities were some of the hardest hit in the province, even though they were never listed as being at any risk of flooding.” Highlights of the 12 detailed concerns raised by residents in the letter include:
- The reality that all available information for residents prior to the flood made it clear that these two neighbourhoods were not in any danger of flooding.
- Concerns that decisions made by authorities actually made their circumstances worse.
- The reality that these communities were under water longer than any other part of High River. Residents were not allowed access to their homes for 25 days.
- Volunteers have been explicitly prevented from assisting these residents.
- Reports that AHS has declared homes “Not Fit for Habitation” even though professional remediators working for some home owners’ insurers have completed or largely completed remediation. These homes have now been boarded up and neither the home owners nor their contractors are allowed in.
“Considering the extensive damage done to these homes and the poor treatment these residents have received they should be extended the opportunity to relocate,” Smith said. “For the rest of the community, it is imperative that we begin to lay in place proper mitigation infrastructure so that residents can feel confident in rebuilding their homes and their lives.”