The Flood Part 1 – WTF Happened to Calgary?!

So as I mentioned in my last post, a bunch of shit has gone down lately. I’m behind in pretty much every aspect of my life and just now having the chance to play catch up. This post took me a while to write as it was hard to wrap my brain around everything that just happened, and at some points I just didn’t want to think about it. If you want to see a news recap of what happened, check out this timeline. It helps put things in perspective.

You better go grab a snack and/or some coffee because this is going to be a long one.

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SO. Back in June 2005, Calgary had some serious rainfall in the month of June. This added to the typical run-off from the mountains we receive every year, but the additional rain causes the Bow and Elbow rivers to rise. This year in particular, the rivers rose quite a bit and flooded into some parks and residences along the river. It was pretty crazy at the time and some homes were damaged, but since have been repaired.

Back to 2013, June was once again rainy and everyone was grumpy about it. And on Thursday, June 20th, it was raining on and off all day. The creek that runs through Canmore (a mountain town about 45 min west of Calgary) had turned into a raging river and houses were being flooded.This was concerning. Not only for the residents of Canmore, but being directly downstream it was only a matter of time before that water reached our already swollen rivers that were pushing the limits of their banks due to our rainy spring.

At 3pm I received an evacuation notice and felt pretty “meh” about it. I re-read it and saw the word “MANDATORY” and started feeling concerned. Living a block from the Elbow river I should probably at least go home and assess the situation. So I did, and figured I would just pack things up and be ready in case I HAD to leave.

View from my apartment. High, but not too crazy yet.

View from my apartment. High, but not too crazy yet.

I talked to my Mom, Dad and boyfriend on the phone. Then I turned on the TV to get some updated news, and that’s when our Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that they were expecting water levels higher than 2005. Oh shit. That means business. So I packed up some clothes and my cat and took off to my friend Nikki’s place (in downtown, not under evacuation). I met my friend (and across-the-street neighbor who was also evacuated) Todd and other friends for dinner, then headed back to the hood to see where the water was at. Let’s use the bench below for reference.

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The water’s not even normally this high

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1-2 hours later… definitely not normal

I returned to Nikki’s, and two other friends had been evacuated and were setting up camp there. All around downtown and the beltline, friends and businesses were closing up shop and getting the hell outta dodge. Later in the evening I received a text from Jamie saying she was evacuated and Nikki’s was in the evacuation zone as well, which meant that utilities would be cut off eventually, and cops would be going door to door to shoo people from their homes.

My Mom was evacuated shortly after I and went to her sisters, then the two of them were evacuated and found refuge at my cousin’s. The five people and two cats camping out at Nikki’s bachelor suite (it was cozy) decided we’d wait for the cops to show up before we made our move.

I spent the night mostly sleepless listening to the sirens and helicopters, constantly checking twitter, texting Jamie, my Mom, Dad, Dan (who was working merch at a show till late), friends in other cities asking what was happening. I would nod off between texts, holding my phone and waking up when it vibrated.

When we woke up Friday morning we had no power, so we all went our separate ways. Dan and I fled to my Dad’s house up on a hill in the west end of the city. It was quiet up there, but we were glued to the TV watching as the city’s rivers pushed way past their capacity, leaking into neighborhoods and landmarks. The zoo was completely flooded. The Stampede Grounds were flooded. Everything around my apartment was surrounded in murky, silty brown river water. The Glenmore Dam was reaching it’s capacity and was predicted to breech but held strong (good work, old gal). My heart was continually breaking throughout the day. It was tough.

zoo

Looking down on the zoo 😦

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East downtown

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Similar area, close to the Stampede grounds

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Inside the Saddledome

One of my biggest concerns was Todd. He lived in a sub-grade condo (just a step down from ground level), that he had recently renovated. He had put so much effort and pride into that place. He had wonderful artwork, an extensive record collection, and many gorgeous antiques, some passed down from his grandparents. He had moved his fur-babies Steve (the cat) and Penny (the dog) out, and some belongings to the top of shelves and cupboards, but there was no way everything could be saved.

On Saturday my Dad, his partner and I biked down to my neighborhood to see the damaged. This is what was found.

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My neighborhood grocery store… about a block from my place

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Just a rescue boat outside my apartment… NBD

The rescue boat was there to pull out a couple that decided not to evacuate. When they were brought to “shore” the complained about how they were stuck and had no electricity since Thursday and their cars were still in underground parking that was most definitely flooded. Sorry guys, you have ZERO sympathy from me. You had PLENTY of opportunity to get you and your stupid cars out of there. Now stop taking rescue services away from people WHO ACTUALLY NEED IT (end rant) (moral = please heed evacuation notices).

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Remember the bench from earlier? Well it’s under there somewhere now

I then made the stupid decision to bike all the way back to my dad’s place (not that I had much choice, it was my only way back). It was 10km of uphill. I hated it.

Sunday I thought a long, 10 mile (16km) run would make me feel better. It didn’t. It was terrible. It was hot and hilly. There was a good long uphill to start, then shortly after an EXCESSIVELY LONG downhill. Thanks to the flood, I had virtually NO familiar pathway to choose from, and had never run from my Dad’s before so I did an out-and-back, and the giant downhill was the most excruciating uphill coming back. Talk about adding salt to a wound.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Flood Part 1 – WTF Happened to Calgary?!

  1. Pingback: So What’s Next? | Goats Do Run

  2. Pingback: Women of 2013 | Goats Do Run

  3. Pingback: One Year Ago. | Goats Do Run

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