High River begins work on final piece of flood mitigation puzzle
Construction on 1.8-kilometre flood berm began last week
Construction has started on a huge milestone in the southern Alberta community of High River — one that the community's mayor Craig Snodgrass hopes will put residents' minds at ease.
"We've started construction on our southwest berm, which is the final piece of mitigation that we need in High River to protect us from flood risk," Snodgrass said. "So it's a project that's been a long time coming and it's been a long grind to get everything in place to be able to start construction.
"But the day is here and we're happy to see that they're moving."
Work on the approximately $14-million,1.8-kilometre berm began last week. The berm will run along 12th Avenue S.W. and replace the large sandbags that have been in place since 2014.
"We've been grinding this out, and people have been very patient with the interim measures that we've had with all those sandbags all along there," Snodgrass said. "But to have the final project complete, I think, will ease a lot of peoples' minds.
"But at the same time, we're also very aware of what we went through in 2013. It'll be a long time for people to get over it, if they maybe ever do."
More than $100 million worth of berms, dikes and floodgates have already been built to protect against a repeat of the 2013 floods, which devastated the historic town.
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Carly Davis, who lives on the southwest side of the community, said her family had 15 minutes to grab what they could and wade through three feet of fast-moving water. She said seeing the new berm being built is reassuring.
"Knowing it's there is going to be helpful," Davis said. "So we have at least one more line of protection, and maybe a little bit more time. If it were to happen again."
Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the summer.
With files from Terri Trembath