Siksika First Nation in crisis from flooding on Bow River
Published Sunday, June 23, 2013 8:43PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:22PM EDT
Heavy flooding along the Bow River has the Siksika First Nation in crisis mode, with residents saying there is little help available in their region.
Approximately 1,000 of the 6,000 residents have been evacuated from low-lying areas, and local authorities say they need more help.
“Other communities, they’ve got the Red Cross and Emergency Alberta helping them out … here we only have each other,” said Ron Little Light of the Siksika Nation.
Photos from the scene show the Siksika communities of North Camp, Little Washington, Little Chicago, and South Camp totally under water.
The Hidden Valley Golf Resort, which is on the Siksika reserve, is also “devastated.”
“There is a feeling of hopelessness,” Siksika Chief Fred Rabbit Carrier said. “We didn’t expect it to be this devastating.”
Chief Rabbit Carrier said a state of local emergency was declared for the area on Thursday night, but residents were overwhelmed by the severity of the flooding.
“We’ve had some people that had to be rescued because there are people that just didn’t want to leave,” Rabbit Carrier said. “The majority had evacuated.”
In 2005 the area was hit by a flood, but this week’s flooding was far worse. According to the Hidden Valley Golf Resort, flooding exceeded 2005 levels by two to three meters.
Siksika has received help from surrounding communities with people donating clothing, water and other necessities. “People are really coming together,” Rabbit Carrier said.
No flood related deaths have been reported and all of the Siksika Nation has been accounted for.
Residents left quickly
Leonard Bear Shirt of the Siksika Nation said RCMP and fire rescuers came into his house in the small community of South Camp just before midnight to evacuate him. He had little time to grab anything.
“I grabbed my clothes and my drum and that’s all I grabbed. My driveway was flooded and we had to walk up a hill,” Bear Shirt said.
Minutes later, Bear Shirt’s house was underwater.
“We don’t have much, but it’s our home. It was unbelievable. Our whole community is underwater,” Bear Shirt said.
“We are in need, this is something that has affected us … we are walking around here feeling lost right now. We don’t know what to do.”
A boil water advisory is in effect and a lack of potable water is a big concern. Residents have been asked to severely limit water usage. Bottled water is in high demand.
A hotline has been set up at the flood command centre: 403-734-3999.
Emergency cots have been set up at the Deerfoot Sportsplex where donations can be dropped off.
An official “flood relief account” will be set up on Monday at the Bank of Montreal, Siksika branch.
“We would like to notify the people of Alberta and all across Canada, that Siksika does need help,” Rabbit Carrier said.
In the long-term, Chief Rabbit Carrier worries about his community.
“I guess counselling is something we really have to provide for people because a lot of them have really lost everything. They left with just the clothes on their back,” he said.
The community of Morley, part of the Stoney Nation west of Calgary, was also under an evacuation order and was dealing with waterlogged homes.
And the Tsuu T'ina reserve on the southwest edge of Calgary said homes and an area golf course had been damaged.
With a report from CTV Calgary's Kevin Green