On Friday, June 21, 2013 I woke up to images of absolute horror and shock of the devastation that had occurred so quickly in Calgary. A city I called home for well over a decade was now under water. The downtown streets were washed away of the vibrancy and hustle-bustle, the homes and businesses of my old neighbourhood were washed away. The sadness and fear of the unknown of the people of Calgary and southern Alberta filled my heart with sadness and my eyes with tears. The panic and worry I had for my family and friends was overwhelming – are they okay, will they get through this, and do they need me right now by their sides. Water is a very powerful force, and largely unknown until we see devastation like we did only five days ago.
As I watched the news, social media, friends texting images and video of the destruction, I was in shock. The streets looked like fast-paced rivers, the Saddledome was full of water, and the beloved Stampede grounds completely immersed in dirty water. It was horrifying from here – I can’t imagine the reality of it all. But in this state of despair I knew that if one city could ban together and get through this with guts and determination, it would be Calgary. And this blog is not to rehash the terror but rather to commend a few gems of Calgary.
My dear friend Suzanne is always the one to give when she has nothing left. I have more admiration for this woman that you could begin to imagine. Her role with CBC had her truly delving into the Calgary community like no other. Setting up a massive emergency evacuation centre, keeping the southern Alberta people apprised on what is happening in their region, ensuring the people she comes into contact with get a smile and a hug because they really need it right now. All the while with her own toddler at home needing his mommy too – but this mommy needed to be a caregiver to thousands over the last few days. And she did it with love in her heart, pride in her soul and energy that will take her straight to the gates of heaven one day. So first to Suzanne – thank you for being you.
Secondly, my Winnipeg partner in crime who moved back to Calgary only two short days before the flood. Talk about some rough timing! As Tina luckily avoided the flood at her own home, she dived in to help those in need in communities across southern Alberta. From the moment she realized there were people in need, Tina used her zest for life and undying energy to help rally the troops across her social media channels. Planning everything from cleaning crews to food and water drives to fundraisers – all within a matter of hours. She strapped on her boots, got dirty when she needed to and cried because she had to. This is what the city of Calgary is all about…people partnering up and getting stronger when they’ve been kicked down. Calgary will bounce back because of the sense of community and people like Tina.
Lastly I have to mention my ‘dad #2’ Mike, an ER doctor in a smaller town outside of Calgary. When no other doctors were available, and people couldn’t get to the hospital from the other side of the river, this man and his team made a make-shift hospital! It was like a scene out of MASH for goodness sake! And I can almost hear Mike telling this story in future years – ‘you just do what needs to be done when people are in need’. Because THAT is the kind of man Mike is. He is solid and loyal and ever-so loving. He takes care of those around him, loves those close to him, and always ensures the right thing is being done in situations like this. He is a saint on earth and I’m lucky to have him in my life.
There are so many stories of people helping each other out in southern Alberta right now. With Mayor Nenshi doing an absolute incredible job leading the city to safety and strength – we can all learn something about leadership from this vivacious human being. One thing is for certain that I have learned from all of this (yes, I am the eternal optimist so the silver lining is always there) – I feel really lucky to have the people I have in my life. Suzie, Tina, Mike – you are all blessings to my heart. I know that no matter what happens in my life, as long as I have people like you in it, everything will always be just fine. So thank you and bless your hearts.
And to the people of Calgary and southern Alberta – from coast to coast we are here for you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Your strength and determination are admirable. Keep helping each other. Cry when you need to. Laugh when you can. It will all be okay.