06/28/2013 12:50 EDT

High River Guns Seized From Flood Evacuated Homes, Residents Furious

In what's already a powder keg of anger and frustration, news that Mounties may have seized firearms and ammunition from evacuated High River homes has brought the match dramatically closer to the fuse.

In scale, High River, located about 30 kilometres south of Calgary, is the town hardest hit by the Alberta flood. The majority of its residents remain displaced and most of the town remains under an evacuation order.

From Highway 2, much of the town still looks to be under water.

“Now what they’re doing is looking for firearms and ammunition. How do they have the right to do that? What does that have to do with the disaster?" business owner Brenda Lackey told the Globe and Mail.

This is martial law. What has happened to our country?"

The move was undertaken to make sure the weapons didn't fall into the wrong hands, Sgt. Brian Topham told the National Post.

“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” Topham said.

“People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms … so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”

Although the number of firearms seized has not been revealed, the number is significant, according to the National Post.

Some firearms owners told the Globe and Mail the reason some of the weapons were left in main floors was because they were pulled from basement gun safes to keep them from getting damaged in the flood.

Premier Alison Redford, who stood behind the move, said gun owners with proof of ownership will be able to claim their firearms from the local RCMP detachment, the Calgary Sun reports.

“In an emergency situation we need to have our police ensuring there is law and order," the Sun quotes Redford as saying.

“There are dangerous things happening. We want to make sure our officers, our sheriffs, our RCMP are protecting life and limb and protecting public order and that has to be the first priority.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said the PM expects the guns to be returned as soon as possible, adding the RCMP should be focusing in more important things such as a protecting lives.

The latest development comes as tensions in High River have started to simmer among the 13,000 town residents who were forced from their homes last week.

Mounties have arrested High River residents trying to return and hundreds have demanded to let back in.

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