Friday, June 28, 2013

A River Runs Through It

It has been a while since I have done a blog post, and a lot has been going on.  There is much back story to be told, but today I focus on one thing, the Calgary Flood of June 2013.

When we arrived  in Calgary in February we rented a house on the river, a truly spectacular spot.  It is spacious, huge bedrooms and an amazing huge back garden probably 20X20 metres in size.  Great for the children.  It is close to downtown, walking distance for Mark's work.  Bike paths surround.  And just two doors away from a lovely large dog park.

On Thursday June 20th, many of the surrounding neighbourhoods were being evacuated, we weren't as we were on the higher side of the river.  We decided to prepare for potential evacuation, we were told by neighbours that that was what had happened in 2005, the last big flood, but the house we were in and all the surrounding ones on our block had never flooded.  We packed a light bag with enough clothing for 72 hours.  Grabbed our laptop and the pets and headed for higher ground with relatives.

A good friend and her daughters had just arrived that day for a 3 day weekend with us.  We were so excited to see them.  I had our days planned out.  Early morning walks along the river with the dog, a trip up the Calgary Tower and two events planned for the weekend at the Glenbow Museum.  (I packed in my light bag an outfit for the evening event, I even dashed quickly back into the house to grab a scarf, to accessorize.)  Now we were 9 evacuees with a dog and cat on a rainy day in the high side of Calgary.  

It was late by the time we got to where we were staying so we fed the children and got them all off to bed.  We had little time for visiting as we were busy with these tasks.

At 4:20 am, I received a text message from a friend who lives a block from me.  She was still in her house and they had 3 feet of water in her basement.  I knew that my house was only slightly higher that hers so this was bad news.  We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, we had moved things off the floor in the basement, we put it on shelves and on top of the dryer.

Text messages flooded in, we watched the news, the flooding was much bigger and disastrous than any one had imagined.  We watched in horror the footage, downtown Calgary was being turned into one massive river as the water from both the Elbow and Bow River converged in record heights.

Again, fingers crossed, perhaps we were high enough.  But then we contacted another neighbour from higher up the hill, he confirmed my fears, sewers had back up late Thursday evening and now our house was surrounded by water, a couple feet of it.  I knew this meant my basement was flooded, and likely all the items we moved to higher shelves would be floating around in the muck.  My master bedroom, with all my clothes and belongings was also likely swirling with water.

I spent the next 24 hours alternating emotions.  I cried, was angry, guilty, felt ashamed of my stupidity, regretful, you name it, but mostly I cried.  Well wishes came in, 'At least we were safe'.  Even this was hard to remember at times, but we were and I know that.  When I hugged Pippa before bed, that notion was reinforced, we were safe, and we well and all together.

It may not have been the weekend I had planned, but it was a new adventure.