Anger rises as Alberta flood waters drop

Some people whose homes were damaged by Alberta flooding blame local and provincial officials for not doing enough to safeguard their communities

Some of the people whose homes were damaged by this week's flooding in southwestern Alberta blame local and provincial officials for not doing enough to safeguard their communities after a similar experience 10 years ago.

The worst damage was in High River, where the Highwood River spilled its banks and caused the evacuation of more than 700 residents.

Many returned Thursday, as flood waters continued to recede, to find their basements full of water and raw sewage.

"Premier [Ralph] Klein was quoted in the paper saying the province has spent millions of dollars doing things here in High River," said Cam Crawford, who lives in one of the areas evacuated Tuesday as the river levels rose.

"Well, it's all been done in a haphazard manner, without a concrete plan and a structured plan on how to resolve issues."

Bev Zielke says little has been done since the area last flooded in 1995.

* Coverage from CBC Calgary

Over the last 10 years, she said, there have been "no improvements to any berming, diking, retaining walls, unless the home owners did it themselves."

The Highwood River peaked at 3.34 metres early Wednesday morning, about the same height as it reached in 1995.

While the province announced $55 million for disaster flood relief Thursday, Dana Zielke says she's not holding her breath that it will cover the damage in her home.

Her family received $235 to cover flood damage back in 1995, though repairs to their home cost a total of $160,000.

The 1995 flood caused $100 million in damage to southern Alberta. The province anticipates it will have damage estimates from this flood as early as next week.

High River is close to completing a water diversion project, part of a flood protection plan developed after the 1995 flood.

While the municipality has finished widening a canal to divert water into the Little Bow River, work on overflow diversion channels wasn't scheduled until this summer, said High River spokesman Lorne Ball.

"It should have started within a month, wouldn't you know it? A month after the flood," said Ball.

"That will be another help for future flooding."

He said the town has also widened culverts under the golf course road, and reinforced a dike to prevent erosion.