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One month after Fort McMurray floods, the cleanup continues

EDMONTON- It’s been about one month since flooding along the Hangingstone River forced the evacuation of several Fort McMurray communities. And while the clean up is well underway, the long-term effects are being felt.

“It’s going to be a long journey of recovery in this region,” said Don Scott, MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Erosion and deposition from heavy rain continue to have an impact on both residences and municipal infrastructure in the region.

“Keyano College, the structure there, the floor where the sports teams play, has been destroyed. And we have an organization in Fort McMurray called Heritage Park with heritage buildings and that’s essentially been devastated by the flooding,” Scott explained Friday afternoon.

“There’s mud and silt and I mean, they’ve cleaned up quite a bit I guess, but still the damage to buildings, their heritage buildings, that was I think probably the most emotional part for me,” added Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, who toured the region last week.

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Between 25 and 30 homes have also suffered extensive flood damage.

Provincial funding has been set up through the Wood Buffalo Disaster Recovery Program, which both residents and the municipality are eligible to apply for. So far, Scott says people from 18 residences have applied for funding.

“We have a campaign going on through the municipality to try to get the word out that there is this opportunity to apply for funding. There’s been a substantial response from both the municipality and the provincial government in making sure that residents are responded to.”

“Anything that’s not-for-profit, municipal infrastructure, and uninsurable, we cover that stuff, that’s what the program is designed for,” Griffiths added.

The province has dedicated $1 billion to flood relief across Alberta; part of that money has been allocated for the Fort McMurray region. At this point it’s uncertain how much the area will receive because damage assessments haven’t yet been completed.

“I think with each individual applicant, there’s going to be unique circumstances to their own situations to how long it’s going to take,” Scott explained.

And while the rebuild will take time, the province is currently working on approving a flood mitigation policy that will set out guidelines for building in flood-prone areas.

“We’ve got people who want to renovate their home or get in the basement and start rebuilding or rebuild their house, but they need to know what they’re going to be allowed to do or not to do,” Griffiths explained.

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The province says details on the policy should be announced within the next few days.

For more details on the Wood Buffalo Disaster Recovery Program and how to apply, visit the Government of Alberta’s website.

With files from Vassy Kapelos, Global News.

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