Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flood victims take refuge here

Leave Alberta home after it's swamped with thick mud

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TERESA Hogan's basement, yard and fence in High River, Alta., are a loss.

But the former East St. Paul resident considers her family fortunate.

"At least we were all together and I'm so glad," said Hogan, 44, from her parents' home in East St. Paul.

Hogan and her husband Paul, 42, son Caden, 4, nine-week-old daughter Paige, daughter Sarah Taylor, 18, the family's three dogs and bird were on vacation June 20 near Radium, B.C., when their High River home was flooded and a mandatory evacuation order imposed.

"I know, who takes a bird on vacation? It's extraordinary, but we just decided to take the dogs and the bird. But we had clothes and other stuff. So many people just got out with the clothes on their backs," said Hogan, who has the children and pets with her at her parents' home. Her husband is back in High River, with family members helping him clean up.

"My neighbour was ferried out (by boat), another one was airlifted out with her new baby, some people had to leave their pets. They had to just throw a bag of food down and hope for the best," Hogan said.

More than 2,000 buildings, mostly homes, in the city of 13,000 have been damaged by the flood, which was caused by excessive rain and the overflowing Highwood River.

The Hogans moved to High River last fall so Paul could take an engineering job. They finished an eight-month renovation on their basement the day before they left for B.C.

"The whole basement is destroyed. The furnace and fridge are ripped out, cabinets ripped right out of the walls, a whole wall came down. All the flooring lifted up and there are about six inches of mud and (sewage)," said Hogan, noting her husband told her the main and upper levels of their home appear undamaged.

"There's sludge all over everything. The yard is caked in mud and they can't even get the mud out (of the house). They've tried with shovels, but it's just impossible, it's so thick," she said. "They're waiting for a vac truck to come. We're hoping today or tomorrow, but you can't do anything; you can't clean anything until that mud gets out of there."

Their home is located in the central neighbourhood of Montrose, which has been classified as orange in the colour-code system to identify the level of damage to homes. Orange signifies damage requiring extensive repairs and the home is not immediately habitable.

Orange is the second-worst category after red, which means severely damaged and uninhabitable.

The Hogan family had departed June 14 on their vacation and intended to return June 21 but could not, since High River was evacuated. They stayed for an extra four days at the rental cabin (the owners waived the charges) while they figured out what to do.

Since they all couldn't return to High River, it was decided everyone but Paul would go to Teresa's parents' home. But even that was an adventure.

The family drove to Calgary, where Teresa and the two small children boarded a flight to Winnipeg. Around the same time, Teresa's father arrived in Calgary from Winnipeg. He and Sarah drove the family vehicle, dogs and bird to Winnipeg.

The family got some positive news this week. They found out Thursday their insurer, Wawanesa, will cover their losses.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 A4

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