The Calgary Flood produced $3-5 billion in damage and forced nearly 100,000 people from their homes. I work at home in my own little bubble and had a hard time believing what was happening at first. It had rained for days, sure, but it really didn’t seem to rain that much. It’s not like we got hit by a hurricane. But it rained a ton in the mountains, swelling the river, which jumped its banks and flooded all of downtown. Suddenly, the entire city was gripped in a major crisis.
My family stayed high and dry, and we didn’t lose power, gas or water, but things got scary last Thursday when the news reported that our neighborhood had been given a mandatory evacuation order. This didn’t make sense to me, as we’re on high ground, so I checked the City of Calgary website and found out only the westernmost part of our area was being evacuated.
In a crisis, one of the most stressful aspects is incomplete information. The schools were closed; when will they reopen? We heard a rumor from an inside source that the water would be turned off; was this true and if so, how likely was it? Just a half-mile from my house, the entire area is out of power; would we be able to keep power?
We packed for evacuation just in case. We filled bathtubs and stocked up on a week’s supply of water in case the water ran out. I also bought a lot of food. Luckily, at one store without power, I had a decent amount of cash on me. Our propane tank for our barbecue was almost full. Walking down the street, everybody was being extra nice and waving; we’re all in this together, we were saying. I drove to the mall to find (which I miraculously did) my mother-in-law (who has no cell) and bring her home, as the bus she normally takes was canceled. Otherwise, I got no work done for my clients; my head was in survival/protect mode. Once we realized we were okay, we reached out to friends who might need help.
We dodged a bullet. We were very lucky.
Once the rain stopped and people began to return to their homes, we drove down into the flood area to see if we could help out. You wouldn’t believe the devastation. I spent hours knocking down waterlogged drywall, tearing apart shelving, and hauling garbage that had once been someone’s life and possessions. Houses hollowed out and covered in mud. It was like being on a massive construction site, or rather destruction site. The homeowners were fighting hard to accept what had happened. The number of volunteers coming out to help was amazing.
Here are a few photos of the Calgary Flood about a week after the worst of it: