Alberta Floods – A Reflection

I know that today is meant to be the weekend writer post, but in good conscience I have to postpone that post and reflect a little bit on the Alberta Floods of 2013. This time last year, I was at an after-work event on Stephen Avenue. We were getting more and more reports through on Twitter and social media about areas of Calgary being evacuated for the flood. It seemed so odd at the time. I mean, it wasn’t even raining. How could it be flooding?

Well, that’s when we learned about the torrential rain upstream from us. As we all left the party, heading to our respective homes, I was glued to Twitter. Post after post of maps of specific evacuation zones in Calgary. Our Mayor’s tweets were often more up to date on the goings on than the city’s own website.

10th Street Bridge

10th Street Bridge

As the night wore on, my Twitter feed became 100% about the flood. Messages of people offering shelter, food, aid, everything. The next day, those who were not in the flood zones became particularly curious. Many of us wandered up to the evacuation limits to see what was going on. It’s one thing to see pictures on the news, it’s an entirely different experience to witness your bridges flooding or being washed away.

Flooded sidewalks in Chinatown

Flooded sidewalks in Chinatown

What I saw in the weeks following the flood was an outpouring of love. Love for your family, friends, neighbours and even complete strangers. People were going to neighbourhoods that were not their own, showing up with rubber boots and gloves, and were prepared to do whatever they could to help repair homes. “How can I help?” was the question I heard over and over again.

A darkened Stephen Avenue, a normally bustling street, all the electricity gone out.

A darkened Stephen Avenue, a normally bustling street, all the electricity gone out.

A year on, I know that many people are still recovering. I know that for many, insurance payments came slow, winter was a hard one, and their homes are still not up and running. I know that people had their memories washed away.

But, what I also know is that people came together. Whether you were directly affected or not, I don’t know a single person that didn’t give something. Whether it be their time or money or a place to sleep, people gave of themselves in ways I’ve never seen done before.  Yes, we may be cow-town, corporate Calgary, or the home of the oil industry. People often like to shine this negative light on my city. But we’re also concerned, caring citizens.

We’re one of the strongest communities I’ve ever seen, and more then ever, I’m proud to call Calgary my home.

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