High River's temporary flood neighbourhood almost full

The temporary community for High River flood victims is almost full. As of Friday 1,063 people are living in Saddlebrook, just north of the southern Alberta town.

Built by the province, Saddlebrook has 215 trailers with room for 1,200 people

Displaced flood victims say it's hard to call temporary housing in High River home. 2:41

The temporary community for High River flood victims is almost full.

As of Friday, 1,063 people are living in Saddlebrook just north of the southern Alberta town devastated by a flood in June.

The collection of 215 trailers was built by the province to house up to 1,200 people whose homes were destroyed by water.

The makeshift neighbourhood has family suites and dorm-style rooms for single people, as well as restaurants, recreation halls, onsite medical support and fitness facilities.

Sally Schmucker, who moved in three weeks ago, said she doesn't want to stay at Saddlebrook for long, but trying to get a mortgage for a new place hasn't been easy.

"I don't think I will be able to purchase a home here in High River because the lenders are a bit afraid and I can understand that,” she said.

“But if they want the town to rebuild, they're going to have to let us get new homes. So it's been hard."

Provincial officials expect some residents of the temporary camp will need to stay until next spring.

Philip Dawson, Saddlebrook's general manager, said they are trying to make it look and feel less like a collection of trailers and more like a community.

“Rec hall No. 3 actually goes live on Sunday and we're going to be putting a theatre in there with a popcorn machine and licorice and all of that stuff, as well as a corner for study.”

Despite the amenities, Scmucker said it will never be like home.

“You know the Ikea commercial they have on TV right now? It makes me cry. The new Ikea commercial about what home is? None of us have that here.”

There is also a temporary community being set up in southeast Calgary for displaced flood victims.

Temporary business centre

Although they are set up in a temporary location, some High River businesses got to open their doors for the first time since the flood.

A temporary business park opened this morning giving more than a dozen downtown business owners a chance to operate again.

Mayor Emile Blokland says it's another sign that the community is coming back.

"Everybody knows we have a long, long ways to go," he said. "It's gonna take quite some time to get High River back to where we were and to even make it better than we were before.  But you know as citizens and residents and business owners and everyone involved in the town of High River, we need to be extremely proud of how far we've come in just 100 days."

Associate Minister Rick Fraser and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith were also at the grand opening. The temporary location houses a variety of businesses, including a restaurant, bridal shop and art gallery.

High River health services restored

Officials say access to all health-care services in High River is finally back to pre-flood standards.

Services and staff were moved to other communities during the flood after the hospital was evacuated. More than 100 patients to temporary locations in Calgary.

Now all of it — including cancer, maternity, and long-term care wards — are back and it's a big relief for many who live in the community.

"The hospital in the centre piece of our community and it's so important in so many ways because it affects us from the beginning of life to the end and everything in between, but it's also a huge economic workplace for our community for our community as well," said Mayor Emile Blokland. "So it was important to get it up and running as soon as possible." 

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne was in High River Thursday to mark the occasion.

"You all made very significant personal sacrifices in terms of attending to your own families and your own affairs in order to put patients first and put your community first," he told the gathered crowd that included hospital staff.

Only two health-care facilities in the community have not been reopened yet, but their services have been moved to the hospital and elsewhere in the community. 


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