Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tears flow as water devastates High River

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Deborah Hulsman

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Deborah Hulsman

HIGH RIVER, Alta. -- Tears streamed down Deborah Huisman's cheeks as she talked Sunday about her dream home on the northern edge of the Alberta community hardest hit by flooding.

"We just love, love, love High River," she told The Canadian Press. "And I'm heartbroken."

Deborah and her husband, Jerry, were looking through binoculars at the end of a giant new lake, hoping to catch a glimpse of their house.

'You know people just say to us, "It is just stuff," but it's our stuff'

-- High River resident Deborah Huisman

"You know people just say to us, 'It is just stuff,' but it's our stuff," she said. "We worked so hard and everybody at the end of the day just wants to go home.

"I want to go home."

Jerry Huisman said he did get a look at their home in an aerial photo.

"We can see our balcony and our backyard, but my pickup in the front of the house looks like its gone." he said. "I've got a very expensive sports car in the garage. It's most likely finished and it looks like the whole basement is flooded."

Deborah, 59, and Jerry, 61, moved to High River south of Calgary a year ago.

"This was our little house on the prairie that we were going to retire in," his wife said.

When the order went out to evacuate, they took their dog, some clothes and medication. They expected to be out of their home for a few days, but High River's mayor said Sunday there's no telling when residents will be allowed to return.

The RCMP say people will not be allowed to return home until their houses have been inspected. Police and military personnel have been going door to door, but by Sunday afternoon they had been able to reach only about one house in 10.

The community's mayor was pleading with people to be patient. Emile Blokland said he understands the frustration, but explained the town's infrastructure has suffered a "critical blow. We're urging residents to please have patience with us. They need to stay away from High River," Blokland said. "We cannot let you back into the community until it's safe to do so. We are working as fast as we can."

RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Jones said there's no telling when normalcy will return to a town he said felt "surreal."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2013 A6

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