HIGH RIVER, Alta.- Flood victims whose doors were kicked in by RCMP are still waiting for compensation, as red tape continues to cause delays.
When the June flood tore through High River forcing a mass evacuation, Mounties went door-to-door, looking for anyone who hadn’t left, as well as firearms. Not only were homeowners outraged, but the incident also sparked criticism from the Prime Minister and an investigation into the RCMP’s actions.
In September, town council, RCMP and the province came up with an agreement to compensate residents for the damage, but to date only about 350 of the 2,000 claims have been processed.
“They’re saying it has to go to Ottawa, to High River, to Edmonton, then back to High River to get paid. I am somewhere between Ottawa and Edmonton, nobody knows where my file is,” complains Natasha Dunne. “It’s been too frustrating. Nobody is hearing anybody, nobody is talking.”
The average claim for damages is $2,000-$4,000.
“It was extensive,” says homeowner Christiana Vanier, of the damage she came home to. “The frame top to bottom was split, the deadbolt was broken. It was a lot of force they used to get in.”
RCMP admit the compensation process has been slow, but say they need to ensure they were the ones responsible for the damage in each claim.
“I empathize they want to put their lives back together, but this is a process of months, maybe years,” says S/Sgt. Ian Shardlow from High River RCMP. “It’s difficult to ask, but the reality is I need patience as we move through the process.”
The new mayor adds that while $370,000 of compensation has already gone out, more needs to be done.
“I understand 100 per cent where the frustration is coming from,” says Mayor Craig Snodgrass. “But it needs to go back. It needs to happen yesterday.”