This past week has been a surreal experience. From watching the scary news reports about the flash flooding in Canmore Thursday evening and thinking we’re safe here (we’re close to the river but we’re on high ground), to the feeling of dread as a police officer banged on our door to tell us we had to leave, we were being evacuated.
Grabbing what we thought we would need for “a night or two” out of our home, we fled with the rest of our neighbours. The line of vehicles leaving our street was eerily like a funeral procession that none of us wanted to take part in, all of us in disbelief that our street would flood.
As Friday unfolded, our fears grew. We didn’t see how the water could get to us but this was a situation where everything we thought we knew about flooding in Calgary was changed. I don’t know how many times I heard, “in all the years that I have lived here, I have never seen water here!” When we saw footage of flooded streets in downtown Calgary our hearts sank. If the downtown could flood, we could certainly flood as well.
We have been incredibly fortunate in this province where so many have not. On Saturday, once they had restored our power, they started allowing the people from our neighbourhood back into our homes. There had been no water on our property at all and no sewer backup. Where the river is closest to us it spilled over its other bank, flooding to the west side, which is lower and flatter.
I walked along the river yesterday and the high level mark along our pathway is amazing. It came with great force flattening everything in its way, destroying trees, roads and pathways, fences, and even moving vehicles.
The cleanup in Calgary has begun. Roads and bridges are being repaired, but many people have been left with little more than a roof. The piles of ruined household items lining the streets in the worst-hit neighbourhoods attests to the devastation that has occurred. Random groups of volunteers have been showing up to help flooded residents work through the mess and reclaim their homes. Our city has been damaged but its spirit has not!