07/23/2013 04:07 EDT | Updated 09/22/2013 05:12 EDT

High River Flood Evacuees Moved Into Temporary Neighbourhood


HIGH RIVER, Alta. - Some flood evacuees from the hard-hit southern Alberta community of High River are getting a change of scene.

The provincial government says people who have been living in hotels and dormitories since last month's flooding can move into a temporary neighbourhood starting Wednesday.

The site just north of High River has trailers, a recreation centre, laundry facilities and three kitchens and has been built from scratch.

It's intended to provide stability for residents while they rebuild the homes they had to flee on short notice June 20 as the Highwood River rose dramatically.

The temporary housing will also allow them to remain near their community.

Rick Fraser, associate minister of regional recovery, says the government realizes people want to get their lives back to as normal as possible.

“I know this new neighbourhood will create a sense of community and give families a safe place to call home while they get back on their feet," he said in a statement released before a tour of the neighbourhood Tuesday.

"They’ll be living close to High River, meaning they’ll be near family, friends, neighbours and schoolmates.”

The community, known as Saddlebrook, is the first temporary neighbourhood to open and will initially house about 100 people. It has room for 1,200.

Other temporary neighbourhoods are being considered for the Municipal District of Bighorn, the city of Calgary and the Siksika and Stoney Nakoda First Nations.

Displaced residents have the option of moving into the temporary housing or making their own arrangements. The province says residents moving into the units won't have to pay rent for three months so they have time to make longer-term decisions about their housing.

For those who choose to make their own arrangements, some expenses may be eligible under the province's disaster recovery program.

The staged move allows the government to add sites and spaces to meet the need that emerges. The province says plans for accommodations after the 90-day period are being considered.

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