Alberta Silversmith and Bit Maker Receives No Relief


I read this article on the Medicine Hat News webpage and decided to post it on my blog. Jerry Swanson is a well-known silversmith and bit maker. He is the man that made my custom Saville (Wellingdon) snaffle as well as the horn cap on my new saddle. – editor –

***Originally published on Medicine Hat News

Flood Victims Set Belongings Ablaze

Couple still waiting on government assistance; entire contents of home unsalvageable


The fire is still smouldering where Patty and Jerry Swanson burned the entire contents of their flood damaged home on Thursday.

It’s exactly seven weeks since the flood. They’re living in a camper trailer on their property and have not received any financial aid from the province.

“The government information is not true,” said Patty running her fingers through her hair in frustration. “The information in Mr. Renner’s column in the newspaper today (Friday) is not accurate. If all that money has been given out, who did it go to?”

The Swansons have already spent $100,000 on clearing their property. They had to make a road to gain access to their house that had flood waters above the windows. It has taken $10,000 in fuel alone for earth-moving equipment to create the road and move piles of debris that collected from upstream and was deposited on their land.

“We need action now, not more paperwork,” said Patty sounding exhausted.

On Friday, June 18, city workers were on the Swansons’ land — located in the valley near the new bridge over Ross Creek on Highway 41A — to inform them the South Saskatchewan River was expected to peak at 5 p.m. It seems as though homes in the valley were forgotten when instructions were issued for people to evacuate as a precaution.

Their daughter has a house on the same property and their friend Glen Mitchell lived in a mobile home nearby.

It was a friend living further up Ross Creek who called them on the Friday evening to warn them of the flood.

“Within 10 minutes the water was here,” said Mitchell.

They managed to move their camper trailer to the top of a hill and without time to do anything else had to abandon their home. Photographs show the flood waters lapping at the eavestroughs of the Swansons’ house. Three feet of ground beneath their daughter’s home’s foundation was washed away, leaving the house tipping at an awkward angle. Mitchell’s mobile home was swept across the plain and wedged against the Swansons’ home. It had to be broken away in pieces and removed in the clean-up.

Patty’s voice softens with deep gratitude for the practical help Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Central Committee gave them. They helped to take their belongings out of their home, remove flood water debris and all the mud.

“They were here for four or five days,” said Patty. “They are beautiful people — we could not have got through this ordeal ourselves.”

The house is a shell now, with all cupboards, tubs, sinks and drywall removed.

It has been weeks since all the paperwork for assistance was filed. The Swansons are still having to trek into town each day to take a shower at someone else’s home. When they phone government officials about their claim there are very few answers and that makes it even more frustrating.

“It took two weeks for a county assessor to complete the report,” said Patty. “A Cypress County Engineer assessed the damage to our home but the provincial claims office insisted they have their own engineer do an inspection, which we hope he will do this Saturday.”

In spite of submitting claims for the loss of all their personal belongings they have not received a cent to replace anything.

“There’s no question administration has run amok,” said Mitchell.

“One of the provincial claims staff said we should start doing something to help ourselves,” said Patty. “What exactly do they think we’ve been doing?”

With autumn just around the corner they’re worried about the amount of work they’ll have to do before winter sets in.

“We can’t even go to the bank and try to get a loan against our house as it is now,” said Patty. “If the province at least gave us a letter saying what we will eventually receive, we could take that to a bank.”

In desperation Patty called Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Alliance party.

“I was put through to her voicemail and left a message and my number. She didn’t call back and she did not have anyone else from the party call me either.”