Monday, June 24, 2013

Calgary Flood: Helping in Elbow Park

The big flood hit Calgary late on Thursday, June 20. The only real indication I had about the flood's possible severity was that somebody left early on Thursday to go sandbag his house against possible flooding. The next day we were asked to work from home, since access to the downtown core was affected. On Monday we were told to work from home again. Shortly afterwards, I got an email about working from a colleague's home -- in his soggy basement, more specifically.

Clark's house is a few blocks from a bend in the Elbow River called Elbow Park. The flood waters decided to skip the meandering course of the Elbow and make a shortcut through Clark's back yard. His basement was filled to the ceiling with muddy water which wrecked EVERYTHING down there -- the furnace, the water heater, the electrical panel, the washer and dryer... you get the idea. Once he managed to pump the basement out, we all came over to clear out all the furniture and other items. I saw his and his wife's university degrees sitting side by side on the porch, caked with mud and wrinkled beyond repair. After that, we tore out all the walls, the ceiling and the subfloor. We filled several refuse bins in just a few hours, and I heard they did another two bins the next day.

The whole neighbourhood was like a warzone -- a mud-sodden maze of chaos. The influx of helpers, service vehicles and garbage bins rendered the streets almost unnavigable. Parked my truck just off the highway ramp and rode my bike to his place, bypassing much of the worst of it. Riding back to my car later I passed a pedestrian bridge across the Elbow River that had been severly damaged by the surging water and accompanying debris.

It is going to take a long time to fix these neighbourhoods.

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