Saturday, July 27, 2013

Flood Recovery Rumours

There are many rumours running around about the difficulties and problems facing flood victims and those helping them.  Two rumours I've heard don't make much sense.
  • I heard that many folks took time and their own money to prepare meals for the flood victims.  But when they arrived at one of the stricken areas it is rumoured they were told to dump their freshly prepared meals into the garbage unless they could prove they were prepared in a complete certified commercial kitchen.  I understand that food-bourne diseases are serious and precautions must be taken to prevent their spread, but there must have been a way those meals could have been used.
  • There is another rumour running around that the Town of High River is actually charging flood victims for permits to clean up and restore their property damaged by floodwater.  
These are just rumours, and I hope they have little or no basis in fact!


  1. If these are only rumors, why are you using your web site to spread them without verifying anything first?

  2. I'm not much of a fan of spreading unsubstantiated rumours, either.

    I can see why there could be precautions about giving perishable food to flood victims - that's why food banks and other charities specifically ask solely for packaged and non-perishable items. With meals prepared in private kitchens, there's no guarantees that they're prepared well or safely - or that the ingredients are safe. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

    As for the Town of High River supposedly needing permits for post-flood demolition and rebuilding... well, that's required by their Land Use Bylaws and Safety Codes! I mean, it'd be a shame to have a home be repaired after the flood, only to burn down later because the guy who tinkered with the electrical in the basement didn't know what he was doing.

    Any other day of the week, permits are there to protect people - not a municipal cash grab. Just because there's a local or provincial state of emergency in effect doesn't mean that all other laws go out the window.

  3. Well, that got a reaction! Thank you all for commenting on my report on two of the many rumours I've heard about flood victims and their helpers.
    First to Anon; I did verify rumours.
    Next to Rhys; I agree with you on the need for safety in food preparation. That is a no brainer. Throwing someone's gift of food into a dumpster as allegedly happened (remember, these are rumours) was not a smooth move. I understand the problem was avoided after a while during the emergency. More on that later.
    The issuing of permits to clean up,rebuild, and restore victims' homes and businesses are of course required. Many of the structures were compromised and will require many inspections before that can be used again. In my opinion, charging for those permits is a poor move (remember;rumours). Victims should be required to take out the appropriate permits, but I believe all
    the fees should be waived.

    1. Smooth or not, I don't understand how such an alleged move could have been avoided - the rules regarding distributing food to the public that's not prepared in inspected, commercial kitchens are pretty clear. That is, it's a no-go. And, during an emergency, Alberta Health Services is even more diligent about such things because they (understandably) don't want to compound a flooding emergency with a food poisoning incident.

      Those inspectors are simply doing their jobs; they are bound by the laws they are charged to enforce. I don't blame them.

      As for permits, the people of High River have spoken and their council has enacted a system of permits for demolition, renovation and so on. They have opted for a flat rate, pay-as-you-go system; I checked the town's website, and they stated such permits were $200, plus a $1000 refundable damage deposit. In other words, the fees appear pretty low as compared to other municipalities, like Calgary, that use a variable rate dependent on square footage.

      While it appears that such a system would be development-friendly any other time, that fee structure now doesn't leave the Town of High River a lot of room to waive fees and not put their municipal budget even deeper into the red. Given the political leanings of that area, I have my doubts that residents would support the Town going into debt to cover those fees, when not everyone in Town has been affected by floodwaters.