Work has started in Exshaw to prevent the kind of damage inflicted on the Alberta hamlet by the floods last June.

The Alberta hamlet was devastated in minutes — 75 per cent of homes in the 400-person community were damaged. Flood mitigation is set to be finished by the spring melt and ahead of flood season.

House Exshaw

Demolition started Thursday on an Exshaw, Alta. home to make way for a new berm. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

A house that was speared by a tree carried by the floodwaters is being demolished.

The force of the water put a tree right through the wall of the bungalow in June, making for a stunning photograph. The home is one of three that the municipal district bought to make way for the berm.

Mandie Crawford, with the Municipal District of Bighorn, said the berm will be built on the east side of Exshaw Creek.

“It's going to have higher banks on it. It will be a longer berm it's going to protect the entire east side of Exshaw. So all of the houses actually most of the town is on the east side.”

Tree home

A tree, seen here in the bottom right of the home, was forced into and through the home by raging floodwaters. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Work also needs to be done on Jura and Heart creeks — both of which contributed to the flood in Exshaw.

Reeve Dene Cooper says it all has to be done by May.

“I am confident we can do it and I am hoping that we have a mild spring. Two 2013 floods in a row would be disconcerting.”

Cooper says it's the start of a lot of work.

“So this dike has to go in here and be completed by May and we have another creek just to the east of us that needs work as well. And we need all that mitigation in in the next four months.”

Cooper says he is confident the work can be done before the spring melt.

The M.D.'s flood director Dale Mather says this is just the start of flood mitigation.

“It will take two or three years before all the mitigation efforts are in place but we'll do our best to ensure that the residents can sleep at night knowing that we've done what we can.”

Exshaw is a one-hour drive directly west of Calgary.