Big flood cleanup for small Alberta hamlet
Most homes in the mountain community of Exshaw damaged by flood
The nearly 400 residents of Exshaw, 90 kilometres west of Calgary, have started cleaning up after floodwaters damaged 75 per cent of the hamlet's homes.
The community was devastated in minutes when three creeks that normally trickle through the hamlet turned into raging rivers.
"I had to hold my hands above my head and my radio above my head in order to walk in the water, and I was up to my middle," said Mandy Crawford who is a volunteer firefighter and a first responder.
"We're trying to get to the houses here to evacuate people and people's walk-up decks were floating down the streets," said Crawford, describing the day of the flood.
Officials estimate about 25 per cent of the homes damaged are uninhabitable, including Suzette Cardinal's house.
"Everything that was on my bottom floor has been destroyed," said Cardinal, who is considering the possibility she will lose her home. "As are all the people on this street. It's becoming very emotional."
Exshaw is an industrial town in the Alberta Foothills where most people work at the nearby Lafarge cement plant, so there is heavy machinery available for cleaning up the mud left after the flood.
"We make very good cement in this village, but I can tell you that our people are stronger than the very good cement we make," said Reeve Dene Cooper.