Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Love Letter To My City: Calgary Flood 2013

This will not be one of my usual posts.

This will not be filled with sarcasm, humour, and moaning about everyday life, or funny pictures of my kids, or diy birthday party cakes. Those posts, my regular posts, will be saved for another day.

This is my post about how much I love my city. And how much it breaks my heart to see her in the shape she’s in.
photo credit: Edmonton Journal
For those not aware, the city of Calgary and her surrounding areas are in a state of emergency due to terrible flooding that began a few short days ago. Whole neighbourhoods are under water, our downtown core was entirely evacuated, and even animals at the zoo were moved to higher ground. 

Over 75 000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas within the city, with hopes that many of those will be allowed back today. The flooding is extensive and destructive, and will cost millions in infrastructure replacement alone.

I am a born-and-raised Calgarian, as are my husband and children. And I am devastated.

My own little family has been blessed. We live in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city, on high ground and far enough away from the two major rivers that being flooded was never a concern. We’ve had to deal with the “inconveniences” of long gas line-ups and going from store-to-store looking for water (in the event of a boil water order, which has thankfully not happened), but that is all.
Water lineups at 7:15am Friday
30 minute gas lineup Friday afternoon
My home is dry, safe and warm, with electricity as needed and my children still able to play in the streets after dinnertime. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been handed a reprieve and for that, we’re thankful.

However, the sheer madness of what has transpired only a short drive away astounds me. Landmarks, history, and memories were disposed of in a matter of hours. Dear friends, colleagues, fellow bloggers and many of my students have been evacuated from their homes, with no way yet of knowing the extent of damage or loss. My husband’s workplace, the Calgary Saddledome, to many a benchmark in the city, is currently sitting in so much water that it’s reached the 8th row of seating in the arena.
photo credit: Edmonton Journal
Even the fun-filled, what-every-student-looks-forward-to-all-year final week of school has been impacted city-wide, with school boards closing their doors as both a precautionary and empathetic measure for their families and staff. I did not have school Friday and most definitely will not tomorrow, but this is not the reason I would have chosen for this to happen.

And yet.

And yet, with all this sadness and wreckage around us my city has risen from the flood waters and stood tall.

Said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars”. And no city has proven this more than Calgary.

Over 75 000 people became evacuees within a matter of hours Friday. Of those, only 1500 have required the use of shelters.

Only 1500. Of 75 000.

This means that enough non-evacuated Calgarians opened their homes to aide an overwhelming 98% of displaced residents so they had somewhere safe to stay. 98%. That number is staggering.

Or how about this much-publicized tweet from the City of Calgary yesterday:
IMG_1454Are. You. Kidding. Me.

My fellow Calgarians. You are awe-inspiring in your generosity.

There are in fact countless examples of the open and giving nature of the people of this city, and it really takes being here, immersed in it all, to grasp how truly spectacular this spirit is. It is both entirely unnatural and somehow entirely natural to see Calgarians band together in this way, and it makes me so proud to call this city “Home”.

We know we are only at the beginning stage of a long and eventful process. I am already seeing Facebook and Twitter statuses of friends making a call-to-arms, asking for support in clearing out debris from their’s or neighbour’s homes; people are enquiring about temporary office space rentals, clothes for kids, housing for pets. There will be a great need in the next few days once the flood waters have receded and the extent of damage assessed, for more volunteers than maybe even this city can provide. There will be refuse to clear, buildings to gut, longer-term temporary housing to be found. We, as Calgarians, are aware of the challenges ahead.

And we will face them full strength.

If nothing else, this disaster has proven the mettle of our citizens. It has shown that we unite as a whole, face adversity with resolve and, most importantly, truly care for the welfare of others. Our city’s slogan is “Heart of the New West”; in many ways we could be summed up with one of those words: Heart.

This city has heart.

And rest assured, this heart will keep on beating strong.

For more information on the Southern Alberta Floods or where to donate:
- follow the #yychelps and #yycflood hashtag on Twitter

- donate money directly to



  1. Wow! Your words are incredible. Tears and goose pimpleys;) take care!

  2. Oddly enough there is no evidence of what exactly caused this flood and any insight given in articles is very vague and doesn't justify the amount of flooding observed. Just articles about the damage and cost of rebuilding infrastructure and how great Calgarians handled the emergency. Does no one question WHY? No valid answer is available online anywhere. Seems odd doesn't it??

  3. Thank you so much for the detailed article.Thanks again.


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