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Updated: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 18:15:44 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

High River residents told to brace for shock of seeing homes

High River residents told to brace for shock of seeing homes

Residents still out of their homes in flood-ravaged High River, Alta., are being warned to prepare for the shock of seeing their damaged homes.

People in Sunshine Meadows, one of the hardest hit areas of the southern Alberta town, are being allowed to go into their homes to retrieve belongings, such as photographs and passports. The area opened at 4 p.m. MT.

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Many homes have been underwater for more than a week and there is likely to be major structural damage and they could be unsafe, warned officials.

People will have to sign a waiver acknowledging that they are aware of the danger involved in entering their homes, said Shane Schreiber of Alberta Emergency Management.

"For many of you going back to the Sunshine, I will just caution that it will be a bit of a shock. We are cleaning it up as fast as we can, but it’s not in a good state," said Schreiber.

"Be prepared to see your house in a pretty shocking state, frankly. We're cleaning it up and making it safe as fast as we can."

Residents are also being warned that they need a structural engineer to assess the home before they enter.

Some areas still closed

The Hamptons, and nearby Wallaceville area, will remain a restricted access zone, said Rick Fraser, associate minister of regional recovery and reconstruction.

There will be bus tours around areas of the neighbourhoods that are accessible, but people will not be allowed to get off the bus or access their homes.

In the east part of the town, more than 100,000 gallons of floodwater is being pumped out every minute. That's one Olympic sized pool every six minutes, said Fraser.

Cleanup help

The province has established a shuttle service to take volunteers in Calgary to High River to help with the cleanup.

Shuttles were to leave from Mount Royal University and Bishop O'Byrne High School in Shawnessy every two hours, starting at 9 a.m. MT. The last shuttle from Calgary to High River leaves at 4 p.m. MT, and the last shuttle from High River leaves at 9 p.m. MT.

Volunteers were asked to bring their own supplies including rubber gloves, boots, shovels and garbage bags.

A camp is being built for displaced High River residents inside Calgary's city limits in a southeast industrial park.

More than 500 vehicles remain unclaimed at High River's rodeo grounds, the province said Thursday.

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