WATCH: Even two years after the devastating floods, the people who lost everything are still struggling mentally. In part one of a special series, Jill Croteau returns to High River to discover the human cost after the flood.
CALGARY – Measuring the physical costs of a natural disaster, like Alberta’s June 2013 floods, can be difficult – but it’s not impossible.
Damages to bridges, roads and homes can all be measured.
Not so when it comes to the human cost.
The Hamelin family, of High River, can relate to the mental toll; their memories are still fresh.
“The toll on my family is just incredible,” said Dennis Hamelin.
“It consumes our whole family all the time. We try and keep the kids busy and normal but there’s only so much you can do when you’re living this every day,” added Bobbi-Lee Hamelin.
For weeks after the flood, the family stayed in a trailer while their home sat underwater.
Later, they moved to a hotel – a temporary home for months.
“We can’t even try to make a home anywhere, because every day we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Bobbi-Lee.
Now, nearly two years later, their home languishes in purgatory – their hope for the future eroded, and uncertainty wearing them down.
“It’s so draining everyday and I just want it to be done. I want to worry about curfews and lunches and just normal stuff,” lamented Bobbi-Lee.
The Hamelin family also has finances on their minds.
“After two years of paying and five diversions, we still owe on a home more money than we did two years ago,” said Dennis.
And what’s worse – the government disaster relief program hasn’t provided any compensation.
They’ve been living on savings and credit, while suffocating in paperwork and unfulfilled promises.
“It drives me crazy. We’ve been promised we would be helped through this,” said Dennis.
And now, they’re starting to feel the true impact of everything they’ve endured.
“I call it the ‘dust settling effect’.. when you start to realize all the things you’ve been through in the past months and years, and that’s when sometimes the psychological impact can come into play,” said Thalia Anderen, of the Calgary Counselling Centre.
But the Hamelins are resilient and more determined than ever.
“At the end we might be a lot stronger from it,” said Dennis.