As many readers know, Southern Alberta was hit with the worst case of flooding it the province's history. A local state of emergency has been (or was) declared in 25 communities. We're not out of the woods yet either. I grew up in one of the hardest hit areas - High River, Alberta. This is what the town looked like on Saturday:
Almost the entire community of 13,000, along with the surrounding area was flooded. It's a sight that makes many residents and former residents teary-eyed just by looking at the photo.
First responders, town employees and the army have been working tirelessly since last Thursday to de-water the town and get to water, power, sewage and communications up and going. It's a tough slog.
It has been an emotional roller-coaster ride. The hardest part is not knowing for certain just what state my childhood home is in. It has escaped the devastating effects of floods in the past, but this is the first time a flood has taken over pretty much the entire town. Maybe it sustained a lot of flood damage. Perhaps it was one of the lucky few that were barely touched. That is something you nor I have control over.
Tied right up there is the sadness of seeing such a beautiful community in such a state. This little town, like any other, represents people's cherished dreams, their livelihood, their community - their roots.
Then, while still reeling over the floods devastating effects on Bragg Creek, Cochrane, HIgh River, Okotoks and Pincher Creek, we heard that Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Medicine Hat - even Edmonton - and its environs were bracing for flooding. Calgary's downtown core and surrounding communities got hit hard.
What is truly wonderful to see - and to be a part of - is the flood of community support. Between Facebook, Twitter and the various media organizations, the word gets out quickly regarding where help is needed and how people can help. Seconds after a post, a string of volunteers spring forward into action.
One thing that is rather interesting to note is a conversation I had with a friend earlier today. We were discussing each others' Facebook News Feeds. Whenever she posted updates about the flood or her volunteering efforts, she got several comments along the line of "That's so good of you. That's so kind." To be blunt, I found those comments odd.
Having grown up in High River, helping each other out whenever a flood came is just something we do. Passing on the message of where and how people can help via social media is just another way that my FB network and I have been trying to help. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that many small communities and those who volunteer regularly have a similar mindset.
I'm just glad to see so many helping hands out there. I feel blessed to live in a place where the government, city and town officials are so dedicated, working alongside with the army and first responders. They, like Mayor Nenshi of Calgary, could use a nap. These folks have been fantastic, working incredibly long hours checking all the homes, rescuing people and pets, clearing debris and countless tasks that the rest of us aren't aware of.
I only wish that all places worldwide that have been stuck by a natural disaster can experience this outpouring of community love and support.
Want to help with the Alberta Flood relief efforts? Check out these links:
If I've missed a link, please share it in the Comments section. Thanks!