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Financial relief now available

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By Taylor Weaver

 

Reporter

High River residents received some encouraging news Wednesday about financial aid now available to them.

Rick Fraser, Alberta’s Associate Minister of Regional Recovery and Reconstruction, told a High River press conference that provincial funding will be distributed to the town’s displaced residents effective immediately.

“On Monday, Premier (Alison) Redford announced initial allocation of one billion dollars for the first phase of emergency recovery and reconstruction,” Fraser said. “This includes helping relief centres with the cost of food, clothing, supplies and resources, starting the rebuilding of bridges, waterways and other critical infrastructure. Some of these dollars will also go to the families who have been displaced and can't go home.

"We will ensure that every Albertan who remains displaced is supported and we are working to help those most in need first,” he said. “Due to the scale of flood damage, our first focus is providing financial assistance to those in the evacuated High River area."

Pre-loaded debit cards are now available for displaced High Riverites. Those who are eligible will receive a pre-loaded debit card of $1,250 for adults and $500 for children under 18 years of age.

“Our first priority is the people of High River, whose community remains under mandatory evacuation order due to the hazards which include contaminated standing water and sinkholes,” Fraser said.

Town officials are working with the RCMP and other disaster response agencies to eliminate these hazards and restore basic essential services to get displaced residents back into their community as quickly as possible.

“A staged re-entry plan is being finalized to get residents back into the community as soon as it is safe to do so,” Fraser said. "The thinking around this is in terms of days, not weeks."

The displaced residents of High River will be the first to receive their pre-loaded debit cards. Residents eligible for these funds were evacuated under the order from their homes for a minimum of seven days. On-reserve Aboriginal and Metis Albertans and temporary foreign workers who have been evacuated due to flooding are also eligible for the funds.

“Beginning today, the debit processing sites will be set up for High River residents only and will not be able to service members of other communities,” Fraser said. “Processing sites will be set up at the Curling Club at 21 Ave. and 18 St. in Nanton and at the Lodge Hall at 229 Centre Street in Vulcan. Additional sites will be set up in Calgary and other communities in the coming week to assist other Albertans affected by flooding.”

One adult can apply for debit cards for members of their household. In order to apply for debit cards, residents must register with local authorities or the Canadian Red Cross. If residents have already registered, they will not need to reregister.

"Residents will need some kind of identification, these include social insurance number, photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport, student ID or employee ID,” he said. “Proof of household connections to show relationship with your spouse or partner such as a health care card, marriage licence, birth certificate or passport will be accepted. If you do not have these documents, you will not be turned away. You will need to fill out a declaration form at a debit processing centre as part of the application process.”

To assist in the organization of the debit processing procedure, specific times have been set for displaced residents to pick up their debit cards. Residents with the last names from A-L can pick up their cards between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday and those with the last names from M-Z can pick their cards up between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday. After these two dates, any remaining High River residents can collect their cards on Saturday or Sunday, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Residents who remain in their homes are not eligible for these debit cards and must leave the town in order to become eligible.

All residents who have not yet registered for financial relief can do so with the Red Cross at www.redcross.ca or call 1-866-696-6484.

Fraser will provide a daily briefing at 12:30 p.m. to give High River residents important updates on the situation inside the town. He will also be speaking with the town’s residents to ensure they have the same information that is given to the media, and will be on the ground to listen to residents and help them connect with recovery efforts and to relay their concerns directly to the government. 

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