ALBERTA

Michel Banks-Kilburn, High River Evacuee, Frantic Over Lost Feline

07/07/2013 03:56 EDT | Updated 09/06/2013 05:12 EDT
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ALDERSYDE, Alta. - Michel Banks-Kilburn has been able to cope, just barely, since being rescued from rising flood waters from her second floor apartment in High River, Alberta on June 20.

That was the day that the Highwood River came bursting over its banks, turning much of the town of 13,000 people into a watery quagmire, stranding residents in their cars and their homes.

But after being able to return home two weeks later Banks-Kilburn is dealing with the final straw. Her beloved eight-year-old cat Sammi is missing and after searching the neighbourhood and all pet evacuation centres she is becoming frantic.

"She's the most beautiful cat and I know anybody who found her would feel the same way but I'm just begging you please bring her back to me," she said brushing away tears Sunday.

"She's my peace. I need her back."

Banks-Kilburn approached Alberta Premier Alison Redford at the premier's Stampede breakfast that was held this year in Aldersyde, just up the road from High River.

She was clutching a card with Sammi's picture on it.

The premier reassured her and said she would try to help by putting something up on Twitter.

Banks-Kilburn said she left plenty of food and water for her cat and wasn't able to take her to safety.

"I got rescued by a front end loader and I was scared she might drown. I thought she'd be fine on the second floor. I left lots of food and water but I can't find her anywhere. I thought I'd only be gone two or three days."

She realizes that some people have lost everything from the flooding and that others are also without their pets but that doesn't make her feel any better.

"When you don't know what's going on you feel helpless, you feel hopeless and I think that's what I've felt for quite a while and all they want is their animals they love and adore and have looked after just to console them and everything would feel so much better," Banks-Kilburn said with a sigh.

"I'm emotionally exhausted. I'm physically exhausted. I just need some peace."

Redford said there was some debate within her government whether it should go ahead with the annual breakfast and whether it would be proper. She said holding it was the right decision.

"We know so many people have been tremendously impacted right across southern Alberta by this terrible, terrible flood," said Redford as she addressed the crowd.

"I can tell you as I'm standing here today I'm feeling pretty shaky and I know there are a lot of people today who are shaky and going through some really bad times and we want you to know we are thinking about you and we care about you and we're going to be here for you."

Afterward Redford told reporters that the province's disaster recovery plan is continuing to deal with the needs of flood victims. She said the government is in it for the long haul.

"In terms of recovery with this tragedy as a provincial government I think we're into this for 5-to-10 years and so I think you can consider what we're about to do is going to start to become business as usual in government," she said.

"There will not be a time where we roll up the flag and walk away and say we are done."

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