Several homes In Calgary's Roxboro neighbourhood remain vacant one year after the 2013 floods, raising concerns about safety.
Before the flood, Roxboro was one of the most sought after neighbourhoods in Calgary. A year after the water came rushing in, it is now a very different place. Doors and windows are boarded up, lockboxes hang from doorknobs and waste bins line the streets.
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Several houses that back onto the Elbow River have been bought out by the provincial government, and are now abandoned. At least one of them has already been demolished. Other houses are still being rebuilt or renovated, the owners waiting patiently to move home.
“It’s just a little spooky,” said longtime resident Jon Dinkel.
He has lived in Roxboro his entire life and still lives in the house he grew up in, which is across the street from the river. It was badly damaged in the flood and Dinkel couldn’t move back in for about four months. He says a year later, many of his neighbours are still out of their homes.
“It’s just a little strange here that there are no people,” he said. “The neighbours aren’t here and you kind of miss that comradery.”
Residents worry about crime
Police were worried about looting in the days and weeks after the flood, and with so many empty homes in Roxboro, residents were worried they would be targeted. After community members took their concerns to police, the number of car and bike patrols was dramatically increased.
“We are constantly in that area due to the fact that there are still homes that are vacant, properties that have been demolished due to the flood,” said Acting Sgt. Matt Forest, Roxboro’s community resource officer. “So our response remains consistent.”
Some people living in the area feel there have been more break-ins since the flood, but Forest says the statistics do not reflect that.
“The crime stats remained minimal, which is representative of the amount of man hours that the police put into the community to ensure its safety,” he said.
Watching the water
Dinkel has noticed the increased police presence, and says he is grateful for that.
While the police focus on keeping criminals out of his neighbourhood, Dinkel is concentrating on keeping water out of his home.
“I’m going to do a little preventative maintenance like flood sacs, a sump pump and a generator to mitigate this flood so I can come back into the district fairly quickly if something happens,” he said.
“It’ll bother me as long as I’m here every year, until the end of June.”