High River residents tired of uncertain post-flood future

A High River homeowner and his tenant say they are fed up with waiting to hear what’s to become of their flood-devastated residence.

Homeowner and his tenant still await word whether flood-devastated house can be rebuilt

Peggy Smithson and Sean Morrow say the continued uncertainty over whether they can rebuild a flood-damaged home in High River has become unbearable. (CBC)

A High River homeowner and his tenant say they are fed up with waiting to hear what’s to become of their flood-devastated residence.

Until floodwaters engulfed it in June, Peggy Smithson was sharing a house in the town with her best friend and landlord Sean Morrow.

More than three months later, the continued uncertainty over whether they can rebuild or have to move on has become unbearable, according to both Morrow and Smithson.

“It’s been hell,” she said.

Despite being constantly on the phone, Morrow said he hasn’t been able to get any answers.

“They won't tell me nothing. It’s top secret. So here I sit October month, I’m on the outside looking in. And that isn’t very funny actually,” said Morrow.

“If you knock it down, then knock it down. If you're not going to knock it down, then fix it. But don't just tell me you're going to call me back, and just ... very, very frustrating.”

Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) official Tim Wilson said the government is working as fast as it can.

“We are doing our best to respond to every call that comes in,” he said.

The province says those who have already applied for DRP funding, but have not yet received a cheque, should call 310-4455 to check the status of their application.

Cam Hantiuk, a spokesman for Tervita — the company hired to remediate homes in High River, said if residents have contacted the province and filled out the proper paperwork their homes should have been assessed within a day or two.

"We understand how the residents are feeling and we move as quickly as humanly possible when we get the direction," he said.

Tervita also has a hotline phone number at 587-363-2894 

Long road to recovery

But the wait has already been too long according for Morrow, whose house has a fridge full of rotting food and mushrooms sprouting from the floorboards, he said.  

“Not everybody's going to have a happy ending. But an ending, one thing or another. Just tell me.”

The Canadian Red Cross is still busy trying to help flood victims get on the road to recovery, said provincial director Jen McManus.

Case workers meet about 60 people every day at its temporary office at the High River rodeo grounds, McManus said.

She said the stress is really starting to show.

“We're seeing that families and individuals coming out of, really, the adrenalin buzz of the first response,” she said.

“And the goodwill of community members has been phenomenal but we do know that that goodwill has been tested.”

Canadians have donated more than $32 million to the Red Cross relief effort in southern Alberta, McManus said.

So far $13 million has been spent.          


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.