Calgary flood aftermath…

In some areas of Calgary life carries on as though nothing happened.  In other areas lives have been forever changed by Mother Nature.  Streets are lined with mud, downed trees and people slogging around in rubber boots; the looks on their faces almost unreadable now, after days and days of sleeplessness and heartbreak.  What looks like garbage is piled high on every. single. front lawn.  Every single item has been removed from some homes and thrown out on the lawn for removal. It hurts to call it garbage because it shouldn’t be.  Those “garbage piles” were once peoples much loved possessions.

Just yesterday, watching the news gave me a sense of hope, as streets that had been cleared and smiling faces flooded the screen.  I was amazed at how fast it was happening and wondered how parts of the downtown would be opening up within days and how the Calgary Stampede would happen “come hell or high-water””.  It brought about a false sense of happiness and now I realize I  didn’t fully grasp the devastation of the situation.  After talking with others, I realize I am not the only one that felt that way.

The reality is not cleaned streets and business as usual.  It’s an entirely different story for many.  Yes, Calgary is strong and wonderful and the citizens are working hard in a million different ways.  Strangers are showing up to pump out water, haul garbage, offer supplies, bring food, help with electrical.  Residents in some flooded areas are overwhelmed with help and are pulling together with a completely different and new sense of community.  But then there are the areas that remain fairly quiet.  The help has not yet come.  When I saw this for myself I sat in my car for a moment and quietly cried.  I had no idea.  If you haven’t been in to these areas you have no idea.  I walked a few blocks up the street and was stopped by residents wary of my presence.  I was asked how I was doing and  embarrassingly admitted that I was fine.  “How are you doing” I asked them in return.  It almost seems like an insulting question.  Everyone said “We are okay” but their faces show defeat.

Help is needed.  Here are some websites to visit if you can help, and remember, it’s not just Calgary that needs you.

YYC Helps

Volunteer Calgary

Kijiji Community Volunteers

Calgary Clean Up Facebook Group

If you have a Twitter account there are many communities that are asking for volunteers as well.  Search for hashtags #yyc,  #yychelps, and #abflood.

If you know of other organizations or individuals that are looking for help please feel free to post in the comments section below.

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  • michelle - You are so sweet Julia. I didn’t do as much as I had hoped, but there were so many photographers that put their lives on hold to jump right in head first. Amazing people. Also, a good friend of mine is matching up photographers with families that lost their photos in the flooding. If you know of anyone please send them …

  • Julia - Michelle it has been a busy 2 months, but thanks to you a little less busy. How many photographers offered and showed up at their client’s homes to help? And now I am looking at these photos and tears have come to my eyes. It was an overwhelming and surreal time. Looking at the pictures it’s as though it happened somewhere else, it couldn’t possible have looked like that…but it did. You captured it all. We cannot thank you enough for your kindness.

  • Katie - Amazing pictures Michelle! I got my first dose of reality from a co-worker who’s been working non stop in her in-laws house right on the river – she has spent hours sifting through the mud for silverware and china. the owner, so defeated said just toss it I have nowhere to put it. I hope one day she will be happy to see her collection again.

  • Merry120 - It is so hard to know where to go and what to do. Some places have so many volunteers that they can’t use them all and some areas have none. I worked in Inglewood most of the day. It is going to be a long road for many. Every day is one step closer to normalcy.