Monday, 8 July 2013

#yycflood: Bits to Remember

Here, in no particular order, are some points of special note, or at least points that made me take note. As I've previously related, the whole experience has been rather disjointed for me.

1. Orphans in Cambodia donated $900 out of their own pockets to flood relief in Alberta. Orphans. In Cambodia.

2. Mayor Nenshi's popularity is soaring, partly because he stayed awake all night when Calgary flooded, partly because overall, he's done a good job responding to the flood, and partly because of this quote: 

"I can't believe I actually have to say this, but I'm going to say it. The river is closed. You cannot boat on the river. I have a large number of nouns that I can use to describe the people I saw in a canoe on the Bow river today. I am not allowed to use any of them. I can tell you, however, that I have been told that despite the state of local emergency, I'm not allowed to invoke the Darwin law."

3. Somehow, there were no water rations and no boil water advisories, though we were prompted to "conserve water."

4. Over a hundred thousand people were evacuated in southern Alberta. Over half the homes in High River are flooded, and given the current state of things, probably rotting.

5. The situation in High River is appalling. The mayor and the head of the RCMP in that area should both be fired and be held financially responsible for the damage since the initial flooding. That includes paying for the doors the RCMP broke down, the guns they stole, and the rotting houses they aren't allowing anyone to prevent.

6. Given the scale of the flooding, incredibly few deaths have been reported. As in, since I last checked, I could count them on one hand.

7. Kijiji Calgary swelled full of adds offering food, help, shelter. If you needed a stranger to come pick you and your family and your pet up and take you all to stay in their house with them and feed you for two full weeks, that offer was out there. If you needed a truck full of young men willing to drive across Alberta to engage in days of manual labour, all you had to do was give a destination.

8. The emergency response centres were not nearly as full as expected; our church was put on stand-down without receiving anyone. It's beautiful when a city can displace 75,000 people overnight and most of those people feel safe and welcomed enough by other people that emergency shelters are few and far between.

9. The fact that the homeless people weren't all forgotten when downtown sunk makes me a little warm inside. Apparently the homeless shelters filled really quickly, because they couldn't sleep under bridges, for obvious reasons, and then the staff of the shelters organized alternative accommodation.

10. Despite being located downtown, Distress Centre Calgary stayed up and running for a really long time during the flood. Not only did it keep taking calls, it took rerouted calls from basically every other crisis line that had to shut down. When it finally did have to evacuate, the main crisis line in Edmonton stepped in to take our calls, and 211 in BC managed our 211 line. A heartfelt thanks to both operations! I am insanely proud that I used to be a part of the DC team! 

From the DC -"The water isn't as high as our spirits here."

11. Our friend Sharon is not a crisis counsellor, but I think she'd make a good one. She was hired by the city to be a children's recreation director, but in the flood response somehow turned into a de facto crisis manager, wrangling people at response centres, answering questions, and helping them get their heads back on straight. Not in the initial job description, but keep up the good work, Sharon!

Person: MY HOUSE IS GONE, ALL MY STUFF IS GONE, MY GLASSES ARE BROKEN, I CAN'T SEE, MY OPTOMETRIST IS UNDERWATER, I'M NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A PREPAID DEBIT CARD, AND I'VE BEEN WAITING IN LINE FOR THREE DAYS TO GET HELP! AUGGGGGHHHH!

Sharon (in her head): I'M JUST A STUDENT THAT WAS HIRED TO RUN DAY PROGRAMS FOR KIDS!!!!!! WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?? WHY AM I EVEN HERE?? AAAAAAGGGHHH!!!

Sharon (out loud): Oh, that's awful! That's just terrible! I am so sorry to hear that. Ok, well, can you go to a different optometrist to get your glasses fixed?

Person: Ohh.... umm, yeah... I guess so. Thank you.

Sharon: I'll help you find one.

12. I left my rain boots in Saskatchewan for the summer. I figured the soggiest time of the year was over and what were the odds I'd need them during the two months I'm at home? Sigh.

13. Despite the state of emergency and my dim predictions, I don't recall hearing of a single instance of looting. Go Albertans!

14. The zoo, being located on an island in the river, was completely flooded. Over half the animals were relocated to the zoo's animal health centre, and a few were moved offsite completely. There was talk about moving some of the scarier animals, like the big cats, to the Calgary Courts jailhouse, but it doesn't look like that happened. What did happen, however, was that a man had to sit outside the hippo enclosure with a loaded large-caliber gun to ensure that the hippos didn't turn up 20 or 30 miles downstream to surprise people. In fact, one hippo did float out of its habitat... but got stuck in a narrow walkway. Zoo workers risked their lives to try to keep their animals safe.

15. Late fees are waived by the library as everything has switched to manual! Time to erm... check out a few books!

16. The motto of Stampede this year is "Come hell or high water". Appropriate, I should say, though I'm not sure how appropriate it is to be so focused on the getting the Stampede back on track when people, for example, in High River, aren't even allowed back into their homes.

17. The military actually had to show up to help in the emergency response. And Edmonton! The rivalry was put aside and Albertans banded together, in the flood zone or not.

18. My uncle lives in the Beltline, and my cousin lives near Memorial. Both areas flooded massively and were evacuated, yet they opted to stay home, as their particular apartments were not in danger. I hope they enjoyed camping. Maybe they got a lot of reading done? At least, during the day before they had no light, what with the power being cut off? Reading by flashlight, maybe.

19. Flood waters in Calgary have entered the Saddledome, according to one tweet: "Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed." Multiple large concerts for Stampede have been cancelled.

A friend of mine said on FB:

"Update: Calgary Flames now a water polo team. Salvatore Tudda says they still won't make the playoffs. I remain optimistic."

A friend of his replied with, "The flame was finally extinguished."

I added, "I have their theme song, by Smashmouth: 'The ice we skate is getting pretty thin; the water's getting warm, so we might as well swim...'"

20. Despite the widespread devastation, from my very limited perspective, the 2005 flood was bigger. The river in Fish Creek seemed to come up higher in 2005 (although apparently Fish Creek is more badly damaged this time?) and some goon had left the storm drains in our area closed, which meant we had water halfway up our driveway before someone came to fix the problem.

21. Parts of the highway were completely washed out, but apparently it's all good again? Wow, it's incredible how fast people can fix things.

22. The day after the flooding, the difference between "completely impassable" and a "recommended route" on the main roads was a single lane of open traffic.

23. Also the day after the flooding, we drove past Fish Creek. The sign that points out the current level of fire hazard was set to "Moderate". Apparently the forest has to be literally under three feet of water before the sign gets set to "Low".

My heart goes out to the people who have lost so much. Stay strong and God bless...

And now, a very small selection of random flood photos:

St. George's Zoo:
 Downtown
 Oddly... beautiful?
 The highway:
 Inside the Saddledome:
 The Peace Bridge:
 Stampede grounds:
You may have heard this, but I kind of like it. In particular, I like it when I hear nice things about police instead of how they're misbehaving. I relate to you, with their own spelling, punctuation, and capitalization the short conversation:

A woman tweeted to the police, "what do we do about vagrants and questionable people roaming the streets in suburb communities because of the flood situation" 

The police responded, "Suspicious people can be reported by calling 403-266-1234. Homeless people may appreciate a sandwhich."

1 comment:

Art said...

It sure is nice to hear how people can help other people. It makes it sound like there are civilized people in the world. I heard there were people cooking food and giving it out for free to volunteers. I am happy to be living in Canada.