Authorities ordered all 13,000 residents of this community south of Calgary to leave when the Highwood River burst over its banks. Streets were flooded and people were stranded in their vehicles and their homes.
"Anger's not going to get me anywhere and I'm looking at today as AD - after destruction", said Charlotte Jackson after she received a pass to return to her home.
"You start your life. It's 2013 AD. We start building with what we can and that's all you can do" she said with a chuckle.
"If you can't keep some sort of positive attitude you may not get through this. I intend to get through this. I've got a lot of life to live."
The highway leading to High River's registration centre was a virtual parking lot. There was a huge lineup outside before the doors opened and traffic backed up a kilometre down the road.
Only about 5,000 people were allowed in. The next influx will be in about a week and the hardest hit neighbourhoods could be five more weeks.
Inside the town residents were checking to see how they fared.
Heather Dupont said other than the mess that her three cats made her home is fine.
"Oh it's so good. I've been away from home for so long. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm blessed. Really really blessed", said Dupont who has been staying with a friend.
"I almost feel guilty because my house is fine. We're grieving and there are a lot of emotions to go through," she said.
People were already bringing out flood damaged material from their basements.
Things were worse at Kyle Hansen's home where his backyard was on the Highwood Golf and Country Club.
The greens are covered with water and deep layers of mud that already is showing cracks from the hot sun.
"This is the fourth hole on the Highwood Golf and Country Club. We were here Thursday morning and I was watching the water run across the course," he said.
"It came up incredibly fast. It was an actual river running through the golf course."
Chad Thomlinson runs the golf course and worries about the business and getting home.
"I know there's a lot of other people in town that will face a lot more than a flooded basement," said Thomlinson.
"I've got to get back in. We've left our families behind, our wives and kids, and really the next thing for me is when can I get friends in to help."
A state of emergency remains in effect. The length of time away from home coupled with a few hundred who defied the evacuation order led to simmering tensions.
Ryan Domes was relieved to get the news he was able to deal with his flooded basement.
"My first thought was it's about time. I know there's a lot of challenges in town but there's a lot of dry areas," he said.
"Good news for us. Bad news for most people. We feel for them."
A tour of the hardest hit areas shows little progress. There are streets under deep water and street signs almost submerged.
Clean up work continued Saturday in neighbouring Calgary where a state of emergency also remains in place. But there are no longer any Calgarians under an evacuation order.
The Alberta government announced Calgary residents with flood damage can start applying for funding on Tuesday.
Registration centres are opening in Calgary so residents with property damage can access disaster financial assistance.
“We promised support to rebuild would reach Albertans within days. This is happening,” said provincial cabinet minister Ric McIver. “We are starting with communities where safe re-entry and rebuilding has begun so they have the money they need to start their recovery.”
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