Buyout of damaged homes outside of floodway possible

Premier Alison Redford isn't ruling out buyouts for some Alberta residents living in flood-damaged homes outside of floodways.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says homes will be assessed on a case-by-case basis

Premier Alison Redford was in Medicine Hat today announcing a $50,000 grant for geotechnical surveys of properties damaged by flooding in June. (CBC)

Premier Alison Redford isn't ruling out buyouts for some Alberta residents living in flood-damaged homes outside of floodways.

The province announced it would purchase roughly 250 homes in designated floodway areas for the total value of the property according to the homeowner's last tax assessment.

But that did not cover houses in Hampton Hills — one of the hardest-hit areas in High River.

"Now there's also very good work through the disaster recovery program that the community of Hampton Hills is doing ... and again there are a number of very particular circumstances related to each of those houses," she said. 

"So I wouldn't discount that possibility, but it does have to be done on a case-by-case basis."

An emotional homeowner whose house has been deemed unfit for habitation after a sinkhole damaged the basement talks to Premier Alison Redford in Medicine Hat, Alta. (CBC)

Redford made the comments in Medicine Hat, Alta., where she was announcing a $50,000 grant to study sinkholes in the area.

The money will cover the costs of geotechnical surveys to find out why as many as 12 sinkholes opened up under homes when floodwaters hit the area.

Redford says if a home is deemed uninhabitable, the homeowner will have options — including the possibility of being bought out.

Sinkholes are formed through water movement underground. The water washes away silt and other fine materials in the ground creating a cavity, and if a heavy load is on top of the area a sinkhole can form.

Sinkholes damage Medicine Hat homes

"I mean I'm not an engineer and I don't know their particular circumstances and quite honestly I would prefer not to get into an individual case-by-case discussion [because] you can appreciate that there are tens of thousands of people that have been impacted," she said outside a Medicine Hat home ruined by a sinkhole.

The province estimates 57 homeowners in Medicine Hat will be offered buyouts from the province.

Cody Weiss and Brittney Meier were excited to hear the news until they found out they didn't qualify as they are nowhere near a floodway or flood fringe, despite being flooded three times since living there.

They say it will take thousands of dollars to repair their home in the Flats neighbourhood of Medicine Hat because of black mould and sinkhole damage that has collapsed the foundation.

The province is giving $50,000 to the City of Medicine Hat to investigate why as many as 12 sinkholes opened up under homes damaged when floodwaters hit in June. (CBC)

"We were high-fiving. We thought that was us," said Weiss. "We still even lose $30,000 with that deal, but that would have been great. That's way better than $130,000."

Weiss said they are currently stuck in a struggle for flood relief between their insurance company and the province's disaster recovery program.

"Nobody really wants to pay anything until they know what the other person will pay," said Weiss.

He said they are still living in a hotel and haven't moved forward since the flood hit on June 20.

Weiss says the province should base buyout packages on the damage assessment of the home and not where it sits on the provincial flood zone map.