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Tag: flood

Flooded with memories: new book shares homeless perspective

Rushing river over bridge.

Bow River on Saturday, June 22, 2013. For a link to see the video of the rushing river, click here.

It has been a year since the waters of southern Alberta rose, gained speed and rushed over the land. The floods destroyed lives, property and deluged downtown Calgary. Friends were told to leave their homes and watched while the river took over their possessions. Others came home from vacations to find they had nothing left other than what they had packed in their suitcases. It was a terrible time and everyone experienced it, including those who were homeless before the flood. Now a book, Flood Stories 2013, is telling the tales of the people without four walls pre and post the surge of the rivers.

The flood stories and photos were collected by Calgary organization, This is My City (TMC). TMC brings art and people together no matter what income bracket or social status. I have been volunteering with TMC for over a year and facilitate four-week, life writing workshops at the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Alpha House. These two agencies are part of the book and some of my participants wrote about their experiences with the rising waters.

This Wednesday evening, June 25, Shelf Life Books (1302 4 St SW, Calgary) will be featuring the book as well as a performance at 7:00 p.m. Flood Stories is a limited edition, hand-printed book and is on sale for $75.00. Proceeds are in support of TMC programs.

Flooding Calgary with a sense of community

Rushing river over bridge.

Bow River on Saturday, June 22, 2013. For a video of the river a day earlier, click here.

Lots of memories were made this past week in Calgary…and many weren’t good ones. The flooding that hit southern Alberta will leave an indelible mark on the land, economy and in our minds. It was heartbreaking to see homes and businesses filled with water and streets gushing like rivers.

The flooding started in Canmore on Thursday, June 20 and Calgarians started to feel the water seeping into the edges of their communities the same afternoon. By evening, the Bow and the Elbow rivers had converged on the city and soaked the usually bone-dry urban centre right to its core. And it was still raining.

On Friday, Aboriginal Day, a friend and I walked down to the Bow River early in the morning to check out the situation. It was high – touching the bottom of a bridge that usually sits several metres above it. Reports said the water still had 30 to 35 per cent more to go before it crested. Mother Nature can be crushingly awesome.

So can people.

While watching the river, we chatted about the water with people – things like if they had been affected and how sad all this was. Conversations were brief but they were still conversations. It’s interesting to note that before the flood, often when I passed by people on the sidewalks or pathways I’d look at them and smile. Sometimes I’d say, “Good morning,” or “Hi.” Out of the many people I’d pass, only one or two ever responded.

Calgarians are busy. They don’t have time for pleasantries. They have a meeting to get to or something more important that voids a “hello” in return to mine. But now, as we stood by the rushing river, a sense of community in the face of all this destruction started people talking to each other.

Calgary Kijiji ads.

Calgary Kijiji ads

During this vast tragedy a few things have stood out: How people are standing up for each other. Kijiji is inundated with offers to house people and pets and offers of clean clothing. On Twitter and Facebook there are questions about how to help. What do the evacuation centres need? Where do Calgarians drop off donations? It’s becoming about community. Hopefully that will be one of the things remembered about this historical week after the water recedes.

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