Province says cash continuing to roll out to June flood victims
CALGARY — The Alberta government says cash is rolling out steadily to those affected by June flooding, but 2,200 people still aren’t able to return home.
The province says in its latest update that $8.6 million has been sent out to cover disaster recovery claims — on top of an initial outlay of $70 million in pre-loaded debit cards.
About 25 per cent of 8,200 applications have been processed.
The government says long-term accommodation in temporary neighbourhoods has been provided to 950 people, with plans for 850 more in the next month.
An additional 400 people are being put up in places such as hotels.
“I’m not going to stand here and say everything is exactly as it should be and we’re all back to normal. We’re not back to normal,” Premier Alison Redford said in Calgary on Wednesday.
“We’re certainly through the worst of a lot of the physical impact, but as we move forward ... we see ongoing challenges that will be identified because we are only 10 weeks out from this terrible disaster.”
The update says all five health facilities damaged by flooding have been safely repaired. And 857 kilometres have been reopened of the 985 kilometres of provincial roads and bridges that were closed.
The extent of the damage in the devastated community of High River continues to be evident as 2,050 truckloads of debris have been removed from the town’s residential areas.
About 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of material have been scraped out of the Highwood River system.
Redford said the Alberta government isn’t delaying its payouts while waiting for the federal government to cough up its share.
“Our perspective as a provincial government is that while we know that federal funding will come, we are prepared to backstop those payments.”
Alberta’s Liberals demanded Wednesday that the government release a flood report that was commissioned after Medicine Hat and Cypress were hit hard by flooding in 2010.
“There are still a lot of unknowns about this year’s flooding,” said municipal affairs critic Laurie Blakeman. “Releasing the 2010 report might shed some light and provide answers to the questions Albertans are asking.”
Blakeman also alluded to a 2005 flooding review that was released the following year, but never acted upon.
“We’ve already seen one flood report shelved for years. Let’s not let that happen again.”