Stoney Nakoda reserve struggles with flood repairs
About 350 people still living in temporary housing
Recovery from last year's devastating floods is painfully slow, say residents of Stoney Nakoda Nation.
Some people are still living in crowded, damaged housing while inspections and repairs drag on.
The First Nation, located just west of Calgary, is still trying to get a handle on the flood damage.There are about 1,000 homes on the reserve, and 892 have been inspected to date. About 60 per cent suffered flood damage.
The provincial government has pledged $98 million to flood recovery on the reserve.
"The flooding in those communities was quite a bit different, as it wasn't overland flooding like High River or Calgary," Frank Oberle, minister of aboriginal relations, said Tuesday. "It was ground-swelling and in order to track down the damage you have to inspect each home, because you can't see the damage from the outside."
Some houses were in poor condition before the flood, Oberle added, so repairs are taking longer.
"We're going to bring those houses up to code — put in the infrastructure — and so that takes time," he said. "We're pleased with the pace there. It would be nice if it was faster, but there's a tremendous amount of work to do there."
According to Oberle, provincial authorities "think absolutely everything will be wrapped up — all the work done, all the camps closed — by April 2015 at the latest."
For artist Roland Rollinmud, the repairs can't come soon enough. The flood meant the loss of his basement studio and the privacy he needs to create.
"Nowadays I can't concentrate," Rollinmud told CBC News. "My daughter, she was at another place and they were flooded, so she has to come to my place. Now there's five of us more in here, so that's a big change.
"My privacy's gone, for now."
Rollinmud's basement has been stripped, but he said he's worried about mould and other damage that has led to "a tremendous amount of work."
Phil Chiniquay and Samantha Abraham aren't sure what's going to become of their flood-damaged house. Black mould is growing in the basement, and they fear the foundation is cracked.
"I don't like coming back here, 'cause it hurts to see our house," Abraham said.
I don't like coming back here, 'cause it hurts to see our house.- Samantha Abraham
For now, the couple and their five children are living in a trailer in a temporary neighbourhood set up by the province in Morley.
"You can tell they're overwhelmed and stressed," Abraham said.
"My nine-year-old has spoken to a school counsellor at the Exshaw school, telling her that he missed home and that he's really sad that he doesn't have a home."
Abraham is pregnant, but "there's no way I want to give birth in the trailers," she said with a laugh.
About 350 people are living in temporary housing on the reserve.
"They're making do with what they've got and we're trying to get them in as fast as possible," said Buddie Dixon, housing restoration manager at the Flood Recovery Centre in Morley.
The chiefs of the Stoney Nakoda Tribal Council did not respond to requests for interviews.