Alberta announces $1 billion in funding for flood recovery

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew

Alberta's massive flood is still wreaking havoc across the province, even as most of the some 100,000 Calgarians evacuated during the disaster's most devastating moments make their way home.

As rivers continue to overflow, the province is vowing to tackle recovery efforts head-on, making a 10-digit funding promise that includes handing cash directly to those affected.

Alberta's government announced a staggering $1 billion funding commitment for Phase One of the emergency flood cleanup.

[ Related: Calgary Stampede to go ahead 'come hell or high water' ]

Premier Alison Redford announced the support on Monday, saying the money will go toward "recovery and reconstruction funding."

“For those Albertans affected by the floods, let me assure you that we will do everything in our power to support recovery and reconstruction,” she said in a statement. “We will rebuild together and our communities will be stronger than ever before.”

A portion of the money will go toward making life easier for those who remain displaced by flood waters. The government will provide such residents will pre-loaded debit cards to help pay for housing and day-to-day expenses.

Debit cards given to adults will have $1,250 pre-loaded and ready to spend. Children may be eligible to receive $500 cards as well. This sounds great. The caveat: They haven't determined who will be available just yet.

The money, coming from Alberta's Contingency Fund, will also go toward supporting relief centres providing food and clothing as well as paying to rebuild bridges, waterways and other infrastructure ruined by floodwater.

The Canadian Press reports that Reford says the unforeseen expense means the province will fall behind in plans to balance its books in short order.

With this $1 billion funding promise, Alberta's government is vowing not to tiptoe around the recovery efforts. A $1 billion vow is a "roar at the top of your lungs" kind of declaration. And the government has taken pains to describe this as funding for the first phase of recovery. If nothing else, it hints there is more to come.

[ Geekquinox: Efforts turn to cleanup after Alberta flood recedes ]

Redford's brash dedication to recovery was echoed elsewhere in the province on Monday.

The president of the Calgary Stampede stated that the province's key tourist draw would proceed "come hell or high water."

Bob Thompson vowed to have to waterlogged Calgary fairgrounds ready to go by the start of the Stampede on July 14.

"Throughout our entire history, we have never cancelled a show, despite two wars and a Great Depression — 2013 will be no exception," he said at a press conference. "We will be hosting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, come hell or high water."

Organizers were also vowing to hold the traditional parade on July 5, although they were still working on how they would manage to prepare and fund the quickened cleaning process.

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