High River residents say 'let us back in'

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By Kevin Rushworth


After his media address Wednesday, Emile Blokland, Town of High River Mayor, spoke to a crowd of increasingly frustrated residents who had gathered on the 498 Avenue overpass.

“I’m doing my best to communicate to everyone I can and in every conceivable fashion I can,” Blokland said. “The important news today is that we’re very close to beginning our re-entry phase.”

Echoing his statement ‘days not weeks’ again, Blokland received comments that it should be hours and not days from the crowd gathered.

“It’s important to know that we have to have a safe and organized fashion for re-entry,” he noted. “There are different parts of the community that have boded a little better than others and those parts will receive access first. We will get those people in their homes first.”

Blokland left shortly after and the crowd took their concerns to the many representatives of the media as well as Danielle Smith, MLA for Highwood and leader of the Wildrose opposition.

Floyd Langenhoff, a former High River town councillor, was the first to speak his mind on the frustrations faced by residents.

He noted that there has never been a flood of this magnitude, but one thing hasn’t been done that has to be done immediately—get the people back into their homes.

“We need to let these people get back into their homes before the mould takes over and they’re absolutely destroyed,” he said. “I don’t see anyone from disaster services or Alison Redford’s government telling us our houses are going to be rebuilt.”

He said after the areas dried up, residents should have been allowed back into their homes to start a difficult clean up.

“Now after a week, who knows what is going to happen,” he said. “Where is the support; where is the help?”

Other people voiced their concerns about criteria outlined by emergency officials that have to be in place before re-entry. Supplies can be purchased from Okotoks, many explained.

High River resident John Bruinsma, who lives in the community’s northeast, said his house was completely flooded, but that residents could help each other.

“There are lots of places where there is not much more water in (many) of the houses and (residents) could be back in town,” he said. “We could be helping them as neighbours instead of this childish talk.”

A day earlier, Walter Danylak, a resident of northwest High River, was frustrated at what residents see as the lack of information provided.

“I’m just being a good citizen and staying away, because that’s what they tell me to do,” he said. “They’re not giving us any information. Our phones were down; we had to go all the way to Okotoks to communicate.”

He said the northwest has the easiest access and that he wants to go in and pick up some clothes, more personal belongings and get out again.

“I want to know how soon; if I can see my property, why can’t I go in,” he asked. “I understand the issues of downtown and I appreciate that, but it’s my property and I should have the right.”




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