Home again In High River: Red Cross funds home repairs after floods

May 26, 2015

Almost two years after severe flooding damaged thousands of properties across southern Alberta, the repairs on Chuck Shifflett’s historic High River home are nearly complete.

But, like many in the hardest hit regions, Shifflett and his neighbours are still recovering from the disaster. Down his street, four homes were eventually torn down, and just two were rebuilt so far.

The Canadian Red Cross continues to offer a range of programs and services to people affected by the floods in 2013. This includes Red Cross funding for Samaritan’s Purse, Habitat for Humanity, Mennonite Disaster Services and World Renew to help dozens of families in High River and the Calgary area as they rebuild or repair their homes.

“There are lots of people still carrying some emotional baggage. I know I am,” says Shifflett. “We’ll get through it. We stick together, as a couple and as a community.”

Shifflett’s two-storey house was the community’s first “cottage hospital” operated by local midwives. Built in 1907, it was almost lost after floodwaters swamped the first floor.  But thanks to the determination and hard work of Shifflett and his wife Fay Mascher, the couple managed to move back into the house a few months ago, just before Christmas. The couple had been living and commuting from Nanton while trying to repair their home. Now, they are completing “odds and ends” inside.

The yard is another story. It looks like a war zone, Shifflett says, and is the next step. The entire neighbourhood is still recovering. “It’s part of the journey here, really,” Fay says. “We made a commitment to stay ... I don’t think we realized what a big commitment that was when we made it.”

Shifflett says his neighbours were happy to see them. “When we came back, a lot of people have stopped by to shake hands and say: Really glad you’re back.” This spring, the block will work together to get their neighborhood back in shape, he says.

While the couple relied on savings and credit while they worked to get their life back on track, Shifflett is grateful for help from the many non-profit agencies who continue to work in the community, including the Red Cross.

Canadian Red Cross has maintained an office in High River and continues to assist those who need help after the floods.