ALBERTA

High River Flooding: Dive Team Looking For Bodies

06/25/2013 11:12 EDT | Updated 08/25/2013 05:12 EDT
HIGH RIVER, Alta. - Members of a dive team from the Saskatchewan RCMP have been searching for bodies in the submerged basements in the flooded-out community of High River, Alta.

Const. Todd Kaufmann, who arrived in High River earlier this week, said he still can't believe what he's seeing.

"It reminds me of a movie," he said. "There are vehicles in trees. It's unbelievable. It's like something came through and there's nobody around. It's abandoned."

Kaufmann, who is from Regina, is working with dive team members from Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Fort Qu'Appelle.

"When a cadaver dog gets a hit in a certain area, they'll send us in if there's water that needs to be checked," said Kaufmann.

The team hasn't found any bodies yet, but they have found several dead pets. Kaufmann explained that's because the cadaver dogs can't distinguish between animals or humans.

He said in his time as a dive team member, he's never had a job quite like this one.

"We're usually looking at lakes and rivers and stuff like that. Not in areas where you have parts of buildings that you have to clear around or vehicles that are rolled over into the trees. It's something totally different."

The search in High River also presents challenges dive team members aren't used to.

"Debris (like) extension cords, you're working around clothes from laundry machines, personal items, everything. In the open areas, it's the same kind of thing because things were washed out of houses and there's clothes hanging in trees."

He said the team would stay for as long as they're needed. On Wednesday, RCMP said the search and rescue phase of the emergency plan has been completed, with 4,500 buildings searched by RCMP-led teams.

However, 63 buildings had not yet been searched "due to structural integrity issues or extremely high water levels."

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