High River outlines criteria that needs to be met before residents can return
UPDATE AT 4:35 PM TUESDAY
The town of High River has outlined the criteria that needs to be met before residents can return home.
-Water and sewage systems must be functional
-Essential services (utilities, 911) restored
-Perimeter fences in place
-All roads safe
-Health services available
-Re-entry support established.
CALGARY- RCMP say two women had to be rescued from their homes – one by boat, and another by a light armoured vehicle – after disregarding the evacuation order issued last Thursday and staying in their homes.
As of 3 p.m. on Monday, RCMP completed a physical search of all High River homes, except a small number that could not be reached due to the level of water surrounding them.
Of the 3,337 homes and buildings that were searched, 303 people were found still in their homes. Several pets were also rescued.
Specialized dive teams from Saskatchewan, along with a water rescue team from B.C., as well as two RCMP flood specialists from Manitoba have been brought in to help.
Berms are being built in northeast and southeast High River, to protect those areas from further flooding.
The town does not have sufficient power or drinking water.
CLICK HERE for information on assistance from the province for those affected.
The mayor of High River is appealing for the approximately 1,000 residents still holed up in their houses, to evacuate as a state of emergency remains in place.
Nearly 13,000 people fled the town late last week, and crews are working to restore access. However, the people who did not evacuate are creating problems for workers as they use water and flush toilets.
“Right now, they’re holding the process back,” says Mayor Emile Bokland. “Every one of them is a problem.”
Water has slowly begun to recede in parts of northwest High River, but the town remains under a mandatory evacuation order.
More than 80 per cent of the town is without power and basic services like water and sewer.
“People must stay away,” said mayor Emile Blokland. “We have hundreds of first responders in the town of High River who are working incredibly hard to get our town back on line. This will take some time.
“This is the most water we have ever seen in our town, and the cleanup is immense.”
Roads may be compromised due to sink holes and there is no public access. RCMP and the army are securing residents’ property and are doing search and rescues with boats and helicopters. There are check stops heading into the town, to protect residents’ property.
Residents are being asked not to park on the side of Highway 2, and violators will be towed. Pets are being brought out of homes and taken to shelters. Call 403-603-0263 for more information.
The hospital was evacuated on Friday afternoon, and utility crews are working to restore essential services to the town.
An Alberta Emergency Alert was activated for the area at 4:15 p.m. MT on Thurday, and those affected were asked to go to Nanton. Those able to stay with friends or family are asked to travel as far south as possible, where the roads are in better condition.
Earlier in the day, the town’s communications manager said the main lift station has failed, and all residents must restrict water use to “essentials only.”
Joan Botkin said in a release that the Highwood River is expected to peak around midnight on Thursday.
“Sewer systems are no longer functioning so residents should not flush their toilets,” she said.
Many High River residents are still trapped in cars, homes and apartments due to flooding, and the army—both ground and air personnel—are being brought in to help. Crews are working to maintain the water plant.
Residents said the floods hit fast.
“We were going to take out cars and get out, but by the time I packed a bag it was going full blast,” recalled one elderly woman. “We couldn’t get the cars out.”
Several thousand people have already been evacuated amid the declaration of a state of emergency. The Highwood River is rising quickly and is overflowing its banks in areas of town.
Three quarters of High River is under a mandatory evacuation order, but the evacuation centre at Highwood High School is now being evacuated by bus.
Boats, helicopters, even combines were used to evacuate people who were stranded, and people are being moved to the Recreation Complex in Nanton, where facilities have been made available for the additional people.
One mother of two young children recounted shopping at Co-op when the floods hit.
“It’s totally surrounded by water,” she said. “The only way we could get out was from the combine.”
Emergency staff are encouraging residents in the Wallaceville area to leave their homes and campers in George Lane Park are being told to leave.
Updates will be provided as soon as they become available on the town’s website.
Guy Weadick Days, which was scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled due to the flooding.
With files from Francis Silvaggio
© Shaw Media, 2013