Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was my home for much of my adult life, and it was a great place to live. The city has recently suffered from flooding of the Bow and Elbow rivers – flooding of historic proportions! I’ve been watching the situation unfold from about 5000 miles away – have watched in shock, surprise, fear, with tears in my eyes. But I’ve known throughout this past weekend that, if anyone can overcome adversity and bounce right back to become better than ever, it is Calgary and Calgarians!
I followed postings, shared and retweeted these on Facebook and Twitter, and tried coming to grips with what was happening to this city I had called home for so many years. I felt terribly helpless being so far away as I am now. Two of the buildings where I had rented apartments, both in Mission, one of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods, sustained a great deal of damage. Many of my friends were evacuated from their homes and now face the arduous task of having to clean up the mess left behind. And the city itself is in dire straits with the downtown core still closed to all business, the CTrain system completely disrupted, and the power off in much of the city’s most flooded areas. The Stampede grounds were totally flooded with many of the major venues in need of a great deal of repair before they will become operational once again.
But this leads me to the first of the 5 reasons why I love this City of Calgary:
1. In spite of everything, the people of Calgary still maintain a great sense of humour … When questioned whether the Calgary Stampede would go ahead, the officials issued this new poster:
Calgary Stampede to go on “come hell or high water,” president vows … From The Globe & Mail
Then they created these t-shirts and began selling them, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Red Cross. BUY ONE, OR SEVERAL!!!!
And there’s this new song I just had to add! #yycflood by Ricca Razor Sharp and Pastrami
2. The volunteer spirit lives on, no matter what! The Calgary Olympics proved that Calgary is a city of volunteers – people will throw in and help, no matter what the circumstances. When the city put out a call for people to help with the clean up, they expected hundreds to show up. When thousands actually arrived at McMaahon Stadium, many had to be turned away. It’s that spirit and attitude I love about Calgary!
And this site has popped up to help organize anyone else who wants to volunteer to help with the clean up.
Then there are the Calgary Food Trucks that posted this message to Facebook and Twitter:
Morning #YYC, we are looking for a few locations today with higher volumes of volunteers and emergency workers to feed! #TogetherYYC
(They are feeding people for free!)
3. The Calgary Police, Calgary Fire Dept., City of Calgary supoort staff and technical crews, the Canadian Armed Forces, the crews sent to Calgary from Edmonton, other neighbouring cities, and from Toronto. There were so many photos of these people going above and beyond their duty, working 72 hours without sleep, trying to ensure the safety of the people of Calgary as well as working hard to get the city operational once again. All of these people rock! And here are just a few examples:
Here’s a Twitter exchange between a concerned citizen and the Calgary Police:
A young boy baked cookies and made a card thanking the hard-working Calgary Police …
And a video showing Mayor Nenshi thanking #yycflood military support
4. The people who documented the flood through their photographs, videos, music, posting them to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube so that people like me, who live a great distance away, could follow along with what was happening. They did a much better job than all of the media. Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:
5. Naheed Nenshi – THE BEST MAYOR IN THE WORLD!!!!
Nenshi is a lifelong reader and promoter of the Calgary Public Library (which is still unable to open four branches, including the main branch downtown and Memorial Park – a Carnegie Library and the oldest library in Alberta!). So the Mayor passed along this message from the Calgary Public Librarians:
“Maximum 10 books at a time, even for the mayor … Don’t return your books yet. Yes, we will waive your late fines. Since there’s no IT, there’s no point in returning your books.”
“Librarians,” Mr. Nenshi said. “They are very kind to people.”
Calgary continues slow recovery after flooding from The Globe and Mail
Citizens were very concerned that Mayor Nenshi had gone for so long without sleep that they urged him to take a nap by circulating #nenshinap on Twitter!
And the Mayor tweeted and updated his Facebook status regularly throughout the past five days, informing the city of road closures, evacuation notices, the situation in the downtown core, and – yes! – even that he was finally taking a nap!
And, finally, a big thank you to Maureen Bush of Calgary who kept those of us who couldn’t be there informed of what was going on (and is still keeping us informed, for that matter!) sometimes even before the officials managed to post the information!
There are still so many other areas of Southern Alberta and Southeastern British Columbia that are either under threat of flooding or beginning their clean up. While Calgary wasn’t the only place hit, and certainly not the worst hit, it was still my home for a great many years and that’s why I’ve singled it out here in this blog post. I know the City of Calgary best! But there are many other places that need your help, so if you are able to do so, please lend a hand or send money to The Canadian Red Cross.