Albertans still dealing with messy aftermath a week after destructive floods

HIGH RIVER, Alta. – It was another day of frustration, hope and hard work for people in southern Alberta who are still dealing with messy aftermath a week after flood waters ravaged the region.

Outside hard-hit High River, Alta., hundreds of residents who still can’t go home because of dangerous conditions lined up for hours Thursday for government pre-loaded debit cards to help pay for their immediate housing and day to day expenses.

On the Siksika First Nation, firefighters from Slave Lake, Alta., — a community that was partly destroyed by wildfires two years ago — volunteered to pump floodwaters from stricken homes and provide help wherever needed.

Firefighter Jim Meldrum lost his home in the 2011 inferno and knows what people on the flooded reserve are going through.

“They are feeling ‘Where do I go from here? I don’t know what to do, I’m just wandering around aimlessly and completely uncertain on what my future is going to be,”’ Meldrum told Global Calgary.

“I hope I can be an inspiration to them that there is a future and life is going to go on.”

In Calgary, people continued the long process of cleaning up flood-damaged homes as they tried to get their lives back to normal.

Engineers at the Calgary Zoo determined it was safe to start returning animals to their enclosures, including snow leopards, red pandas and an emu. Lions and tigers could be back in their pens by the weekend.

Giraffes which had been found shivering in belly-deep water on the weekend were on the mend, the zoo said.

The Alberta government reduced the number of communities with states of local emergency to 12, down from almost 30 a week ago.

Nine highways remained closed. Two highways have restricted access, including the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary.

The province was also offering displaced people who have been staying at reception centres in Nanton, Okotoks and Blackie to move to residences at the University of Lethbridge.

In Medicine Hat, 75 per cent of evacuated homes and businesses have been inspected and 90 per cent of those have been deemed safe for people.