Residents impressed with Province's response
Turner Valley: Concerned homeowners get their questions answered at public meeting
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 09:18 am
Diamond Valley residents are starting to feel the government is moving in the right direction as it extends a hand to Albertans devastated by floodwaters that raged through the southern portion of the province last spring.
About two dozen residents attended a public meeting at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall in Turner Valley on Aug. 14 where Associate Minister for Recovery and Reconstruction Kyle Fawcett, Chief Assistant Deputy Minister of the Flood Recovery Task Force Andre Corbould and other government officials answered questions and responded to concerns.
Black Diamond resident Fred Davidson, whose basement was flooded and its contents destroyed when the flood hit his neighbourhood on June 20, said the meeting showed the government is making progress. “I think we are getting closer to some final answers,” he said after the meeting. “I think the government is more open to suggestions (than at their last meeting three weeks prior). Their answers were more forthright this time. In all fairness the government did the best they could with what they had at the time.”
Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said other residents she’s talked with said they feel the government is listening to their needs.
“We had a couple of residents with two thirds of their house in the flood zone and one third in the flood fringe and they got all of their questions answered and they are going to meet with them independently next week,” she said. “I’m impressed with minister Fawcett and the industry with their direct answers. By the grace of God we are where we are with some really dedicated people behind us and that includes the Province.”
Davidson was told monetary support for uninsured damaged property is available through the Disaster Recovery Program and the government established specific standards to residents and merchants to flood proof in flood fringe areas, but they could change.
“The minimum standard may increase over the years,” said Corbould, adding the government received some pushback on some requirements including concrete walls due to the high expense.
Fawcett added the standards set by the government do not guarantee the prevention of flood damage, but said it will cost taxpayers less as the damage won’t be as severe if flooding occurs again.
Corbould said one of the Province’s immediate concerns in the area was repairing the highway between Black Diamond and Turner Valley as quickly as possible, although they may have to go back and make some changes.
“We might see work done to make it more resilient,” he said. “We will come back to see did we do it right, did we make mistakes along the way.”
Fawcett assured those in attendance although not all river mitigation and flood prevention work will be completed for the Sheep River next spring, something will be done.
“We will do what needs to be done in the next four months so there will be some level of mitigation from the flood season next year,” he said. “We’ll get out and talk to people before any of these decisions are made. If we rush that aspect of this and we do it wrong the actual consequences would be more severe than if we didn’t do anything at all.”
Fawcett said experts have been hired to research the best practices for each community before work begins.
“We cannot get this wrong,” he said. “We need to put the effort in to make sure it’s right. It might be two or three years down the road, it might be next year. Planning takes months and years. I’m going to be here until the job is done to support the community.”
Corbould said the Province will continue consulting with affected communities and share those ideas across the province.
“We are not trying to fight Mother Nature so there will never be a flood,” he said. “We can’t prevent everything in the world from happening. It’s about being ready for it.”
One attendee suggested a warning system be in place as most people received little warning to evacuate their homes. Ideas included an alarm system and stationing experts in the Kananaskis.
Fawcett said the Province will have to review these suggestions.
Others were concerned about lack of communication immediately following the flood, particularly with the power outage experienced in Black Diamond. One woman said her power was out for 10 days.
Fawcett said all residents should have an emergency kit for such purposes, which should include a batter-powered radio so they can listen for news and updates on their local radio station.
The Province has invested $1 billion in the recovery process and that number will increase, Fawcett said.
Residents with questions or concerns that haven’t been answered by the Disaster Recovery Program can email Kyle Fawcett at email@example.com