Bragg Creek residents question flood relief policies
Flood 2013: Strong turnout for flood information meeting on July 25
By: By Carmen Solana-Martin
| Posted: Monday, Aug 05, 2013 01:53 pm
Bragg Creek home and businesses owners who were impacted by the June flood were looking for answers, but many said they left a flood information session last week with questions.
On July 25, the Province held a public flood information session at the Bragg Creek Community Centre and about 75 local residents affected by the June 20 flash flood attended.
Provincial representatives presented details and answered questions about their disaster recovery program and flood mapping, but residents were more concerned about future flood mitigation policies.
For almost three hours, Bragg Creek and area residents, some clearly distraught, asked a variety of questions on topics such as collective and individual flood mitigation, flood mapping, property land reclamation, and loss of tourism dollars due to damaged local roads and businesses.
Bragg Creek resident Air Bouphasiry, chef-owner of Infusion Contemporary Cuisine Restaurant, lost both his home and business to flooding when the Elbow River overflowed its banks on June 20, and flooded about 180 homes and most of the stores in the hamlet’s commercial core.
“I don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling except to say I’m still in shock,” said Bouphasiry. “I’ve lost my restaurant and home, everything I’ve built for the last 12 years. I stood there for three hours watching the river wash everything away.”
Bouphasiry said he attended the flood information session to get answers and seek financial aid information from the provincial government, specifically regarding disaster relief funding for small businesses.
Kyle Fawcett, associate minister of recovery and reconstruction for southwest Alberta, Banff-Cochrane MLA Ron Casey, and Rocky View County Reeve Rolly Ashdown were on hand to answer questions.
During the session residents were told the Province will provide financial assistance in the form of bank loans to small businesses owners whose stores and restaurants were uninsurable due to overland flooding.
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“There was lots of talk, information, and promises but I still need to get answers,” said Bouphasiry. “I feel a little better and it’s helped, but I need to see something happening soon.”
Even with reassurance on provincial funding support, Bouphasiry said he is still concerned about his financial future because if he receives a bank loan, he will be required to pay it back.
“I still have no clue if the bank will give me a loan,” he said. “What do I have to back it up? Hopefully the disaster assistance comes in place soon because I can’t wait any longer and I cannot survive financially,” he said. “It is the only hope I have.”
Flood mitigation policy
According to Rocky View County, after assessing 181 homes and businesses in Bragg Creek for flood damage, out of the 90 affected, approximately 21 were coded as red zone properties, meaning flooding either damaged their structural integrity or water damage may have compromised their flooring systems.
A provincial representative said the majority of homes and the four shopping malls in Bragg Creek are located in flood fringe areas.
Residents living in flood fringe zones will be eligible for future provincial compensation in the event of another flood, if they flood-proof their homes and businesses.
At the meeting residents asked when these new provincial collective and individual flood mitigation policies would be available, so they could make decisions about flood proofing and rebuilding their homes and businesses.
Fawcett said working on the new flood mitigation policies will be a long and arduous process and will require patience on the part of people affected by the floods.
“It is a real balance and a challenge,” he said. “We want to move this out as fast as we can so residents can make decisions faster, but the faster we push things out, the less likely we’ll do our due diligence.”
According to Fawcett co-operation between the Province and Rocky View County is imperative as they move forward to the recovery phase.
“Both levels of government are on the same page and we are constantly aware of each other’s needs and priorities,” said Fawcett.
Ashdown said the County will rely on the provincial and federal governments for financial help with flood recovery.
“We’re always working with the Province,” said Ashdown. “We’re available to people and they can call anytime, and while help is limited, it is certainly willing.”
Rocky View County Building Services evaluated most homes and businesses in Bragg Creek for damage due to flooding. Following the assessment, each property was assigned a colour-coded rating that corresponds with the amount of damage and the types of permits required.
To find out more, contact Building Services at 403-230- 1401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Alberta Flood Recovery, go to www.alberta.ca or call 403-310-4455.