Without detracting from the outstanding public worker's, and many of Calgary's volunteers, I still don't think that #calgarystrong is all that appropriate. When we first got news of the eminent flooding, people remained fairly calm here in Cowtown. Some people ignored the mandatory evacuations. I personally was at work, checking my $600 smartphone for updates on the rising waters. People were still going out to eat, drink and be merry, totally clueless to the idea that they might not make it home that night. The entire city watched helplessly as the waters swelled over their banks, and into peoples homes. Cars, homes, wildlife, park spaces, public spaces, roadways, the God Damn Stampede grounds were all in serious jeopardy as the waters overtook the city. One by one neighborhoods began to be evacuated. Friends that moved in with other friends were then evacuated; some had to move up to three times to escape the path of destruction.
By 2am, the waters had supposedly reached their maximum swell. Manhole covers continued to be uplifted in certain areas however, and ground water leached into foundations even on high ground. The river may have been receding, but the water table remained too high. Sewers were backing up, and spewing onto the city streets. Water was everywhere, and there was no forcasted break.
Through the rain, we attempted a tour of the destruction. We weren't the only ones with $2500 camera set ups. Bystanders flocked to the accessible views, some at a cost of rescue, all hoping to have their photo featured for a brief moment on TV.
Most roadways were closed. All bridges were closed. Downtown was closed - all the main corridors from east/west north/south were starting to close. It truly was a state of emergency. The City for the first 48 hours was in an almost blissful state; kind of like that moment when you submerge your head in a bath and revel in the quiet. There was no power. No transit. No mode of transport really. All was quiet while we simply waited for the water to recede.
Now back to this "#calgarystrong. Calgary is strong. It is resilient. It is amazing. However, it's also very rich. As I watched with great amazement at how quickly and smoothly the cleanup started, it really made me think of some of the other disasters around the world. How fortunate are we that we are able to have every cleanup crew in the Western Prairies come to help? How fortunate are we that the City can afford all of the street cleaners, pumps, road crews, and helicopter rides? Yes, Calgary is #strong, but it's mostly fortunate.
We are fortunate to have strong, able bodies. We are fortunate to all have access to news, and social media in a time like this. We are fortunate to have neighbours who are willing to help, rather than loot. We are fortunate to have good engineers to help plan for distasters. We are fortunate to have a government
that legitimately cares about it's people and their well-being. We are fortunate to have global news coverage, so even those Cambodian orphans can donate to our cause. We are fortunate that only half of 17th avenue is closed, so that even amongst a disaster, we can still get an $8 beer, at precisely the right temperature.