By Kevin Rushworth
As of Monday, July 1 at 8 a.m., High River business operators are able to return home to the Town of High River, nearly a week after flooding covered the entire community.
Business owners in the commercial district at the centre of town, moving east towards Highway 2, are the ones who are able to return on Canada Day.
The access for these operators will be the Highway 23 overpass near the John Deere location, according to a Town of High River press release.
Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Safety regulations will apply to all businesses returning to the community. Upon entry, business owners will receive information on the status/condition of their business.
As the town continues to re-populate after calamitous flooding, ensuring local business owners are able to return is an important step in the town's re-entry plan.
Though community members are slowly being allowed back into place, the provincial state of emergency remains in place in an attempt to ensure a safe and orderly transition from emergency into the recovery phase. RCMP will continue to operate roadblocks in necessary locations. .
For more information, please visit http://alberta.ca/High-River.cfm.
Southwest re-entry Monday, July 1 at noon
Those residents living in the southwest of High River are the second group of homeowners who will be able to return safely to their homes on Monday at noon. This area has been deemed by provincial authorities to be safe.
Communities in which residents will be allowed to return include Beachwood Estates, McLaughlin Meadows, the old Rodeo grounds, downtown and the golf course.
Just as before, homes have been colour coded in the previously reported colours of green, yellow, orange and red.
Centre of town update
On Wednesday, July 3 at noon, the centre of town will re-open to residents anxious to return to their homes. The welcome centre at the rodeo grounds will once again be the location for residents to gain access to the community.
East end update
The province of Alberta continues to work on the timeline to get people back in the east end of town. Currently, there is a large lake that is affecting the northeast as well as the southeast communities. Nearly 40,000 gallons of water per minute continues to be pumped from that lake.
Northwest re-entry update
On Saturday, residents of the northwest moved back into their homes to assess the flood-damage. Close to 1,500 homes have been reoccupied and at the time of press release issue, nearly 300 homes are still unoccupied.
A boiled water advisory remains in effect and residents have water and sewage systems restored. Authorities are asking residents to bring your water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for domestic purposes.
These include drinking, making infant formula and juices, brushing teeth, washing raw food and making ice. Residents have and can choose to use bottled water for convenience. Water used for bathing and laundry does not have to be boiled.
More than 700 residences had power restored yesterday and over 500 were soon reconnected with natural gas. The work is ongoing within the community, even as people return to their homes.
The Welcome Centre at the High River Agricultural Society rodeo grounds will continue to be the location where returning residents will receive an extensive information package containing a damage classification of their home, mental health and other social assistance supports available, key phone numbers, and advice for cleaning residential property.
Throughout High River's staged re-entry and beyond, the Welcome Centre will support returning residents as a 'one stop shop' to provide information and resources, including social services (such as post-traumatic stress counseling) and administrative support, such as personal documentation.
High River Hospital update
At this moment, the High River Hospital remains closed. Alberta Health Services (AHS) is working to recover the facility and is working to ensure that it is safe for both patients and staff as well.
Contractors are on site clearing the parking lot and work will start soon on clearing the inside of the facility. A cleaning crew was on hand Sunday for the work and repairs will be necessary before the building will be reopened.
AHS will update the community as soon as possible. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. The nearest emergency department and urgent care centres are the Okotoks Urgent Care Centre at 11 Cimarron Common, the Oilfields General Hospital in Black Diamond and the South Health Campus in Calgary at 4448 Front Street.