Some residents of the stretch of southern Alberta struck by torrential rains this summer say the disaster assistance money they were promised has been tied up in red tape.
After the creeks in and around Medicine Hat, Alta., burst their banks in June, provincial politicians swooped in. More than $200 million in disaster assistance was promised to the thousands left homeless in the province.
But in the hamlet of Irvine, a tiny community east of Medicine Hat on the Trans-Canada Highway, resident Karen Kramer is still camping next to her gutted home. A cluster of power, telephone and cable wires are the only connection to the way she used to live.
"I still don't have a home. I mean I have a place to lay down at night and stuff, but no, there is no home yet," she told CBC News.
She's been living like this for more than three months. But in the days after the flood, Kramer said, she took heart in the comforting words of politicians.
"Promises were made," she said. "They said, 'We we'll make sure, don't worry … you're all going to be back in your homes.'"
Province has paid out $23M
The province insists it has lived up to its promises.
"The people who were hardest hit … I believe there is just a small percentage of cheques that weren't issued. Ninety per cent of the money is out there," said Premier Ed Stelmach.
However, by the province's own tally, only about 10 per cent of the promised money — $23 million — has actually been paid out.
"Most of the people in town have gotten to business and did it themselves … They haven't really waited for the province to come and help them," said Irvine storeowner Karen Hamerton.
With waterlogged and wrecked furniture still littering his ruined home, Irvine-area resident Lance Dirk said his family continues to wait for help.
"We pretty much hauled everything we own to the dump, so we're just waiting for some assistance from the government," said Dirk, who has lived and raised a family on his farm for nearly two decades.
Stelmach stood in front of him in the days after the flood promising to help, he said.
"It sounded like he was going to really do something but, like I say, nothing's happened yet," Dirk said. "We're kind of sitting in no-man's land here."