12/24/2013 12:53 EST | Updated 02/23/2014 05:59 EST

Many Alberta Flood Victims Can't Be Home For Christmas


An estimated 1,000 victims of the Alberta floods are still out of their homes this holiday season, including a High River couple who will be spending Christmas in their garage.

Andy and Jo-ann Vanderploeg hung twinkling lights from the ceiling, put up a small Christmas tree and tried to make the garage as comfortable as possible.

"We were living in a motor home,” said Andy Vanderploeg. “So we just first moved in here just around Halloween. We've got water. We've got a wood-burning stove. We've got carpet interior. Everything's been done so it's comfortable and it's home. For now that's the way it's going to be."

The couple doesn't know whether their house will be torn down or rebuilt. The floodwater hit with such force in June, it tore out a piece of the cinder block foundation. They're waiting on word from their insurance company and the provincial government's flood assistance program.

“My wife and I, we kind of feel a loss without our home. It’s very tough,” he said.

“We're going to celebrate Christmas like we normally would. Try to anyways, try to make it normal," Vaderploeg said.

Earlier this week, the Red Cross said they are still getting calls from people who were left homeless by the flood and are struggling to pay the bills. The organization plans to remain in Calgary and High River in 2014.

The Alberta government says more than 1,000 flood victims are still out of their homes. 

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