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Canada flood victims to receive $1 billion in aid

Story highlights

  • Power is restored to much of downtown Calgary
  • Water is not receding in some parts of hard-hit High River
  • Some Medicine Hat residents are starting to return home
  • The $1 billion will be used to help rebuild and support displaced families

The government of Alberta, Canada, will provide $1 billion in funding for recovery and reconstruction after the province's devastating floods, Premier Alison Redford said Monday.

"We are going to do -- please listen to my words -- whatever it takes to get everyone back to a place where they can continue to live their lives," Redford said.

More than 100,000 Albertans have been affected by the floods, which began last week after heavy mountain rains swelled rivers flowing to the east. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated in Calgary, Medicine Hat and elsewhere, along with the entire town of High River, where three people died in the floods.

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"Yesterday, I saw families in Calgary emptying their entire basements out; wet furniture was strewn across front lawns," Redford said in a statement. "And at the evacuation site in Nanton, I met families who feel they've lost everything and don't know when they'll get home to High River."

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The $1 billion will be used to help rebuilding efforts and support displaced families. They will receive pre-loaded debit cards of $1,250 per adult and $500 per child to help with housing needs and day-to-day purchases, Redford said.

Waters have been receding in some parts of the province while others are now dealing with flooding.

Some 65,000 residents in Calgary got the all-clear to return home. Downtown Calgary, where the Bow and Elbow Rivers converge, was especially hard-hit, but power was restored to a large portion of it, and the city expected to reopen nearly all of downtown by Tuesday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

In Alberta, misery rises along with floodwaters

In High River, about 40 miles south of Calgary, the flooding has now stopped, but some water is simply not receding, said Constable Janice Schoepp of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

That makes it difficult to assess the extent of the damage in High River, though it's safe to say the town is in a "critical situation" with extensive damage, said Katrina Bluetchen, a spokeswoman for the Alberta government.

The South Saskatchewan River flowing through Medicine Hat, in southeastern Alberta, crested Monday but was still overflowing its banks, Schoepp said.

Medicine Hat was able to stave off some damage because it saw the extent of flooding to the west days before it reached the city and was able to prepare, she said.

"I think it made a big difference," Schoepp said.

The city said Monday it is starting to return residents to their homes.

New flooding was occurring Monday in Drumheller, known as the dinosaur capital of the world for the dinosaur bones and fossils found there, and at the Siksika Indian reserve, east of Calgary, Schoepp said.