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Heritage home owners face long wait to rebuild post-flood

CALGARY- When the June flood waters hit, people from around Calgary rushed to hard-hit areas to help with the cleanup. And while most affected residents are now focused on rebuilding, those with historic homes are being forced to hurry up and wait.

It has been so wet since the flood that it’s taking older buildings longer to dry out than expected—especially for those made of sandstone.

“That’s probably our number one issue, is saturated sandstone foundations and getting them to dry out slowly,” says Darryl Cariou, heritage planner with the City of Calgary. “And then, we’ve got winter coming.”

He adds that they’ve learned some hard lessons, in the wake of the flood.

“This flood has created issues that we weren’t anticipating, and to be honest we weren’t ready for the flood and the impact on heritage buildings. We’re looking ahead and planning to be a little more prepared next time.”

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The city heritage planner has 750 sites of heritage value on its inventory, and it’s estimated that 75 per cent of them were affected by flooding. Most were in older neighbourhoods near the river, and restoring them takes longer than new-build homes.

The owners of Baird-Miller house in Elbow Park say they have to wait an entire year to let the foundation dry out, before they can start rebuilding.

“Right now we’re just trying to do the right thing to make sure that the sandstone is not compromised, it doesn’t freeze, we’ve got heat in the basement, heat in the house,” explains owner Corey Miller. “Most of the homes here still don’t have heat.”

Miller says he’ll do whatever it takes to preserve the home for future generations.

“I want to pay it forward. I was given a gift of this home, and it’s my goal that Calgarians will have this home a hundred years from now.”

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