Disbelief. Grief. Worry. Sadness. Helplessness.
These are just a few of the emotions I felt watching the waters of the Bow and Elbow Rivers rise rapidly over the last few days.
How rapidly? Like nothing we have ever seen in recent history.
My scientist brain leapt to the data and I saw some staggering hydrographs showing how fast the rivers were increasing.
Thankfully the Rivers are dropping slowly, but the clean up will be tremendous.
It is heart wrenching to watch so many people be displaced by the flooding throughout Calgary, High River, Canmore, and Black Diamond. For me, I am safe. I have family members that have been displaced by the flooding, but everyone has checked in and are accounted for. It is too soon to tell how extensive the damage will be. What lies beneath the swirling muddy surface of the rivers is unknown.
In the midst of all this destruction, there has been story after story of courage and compassion. It is the story of a community coming to its own rescue. People are determined to help and have filled the community centres to overflowing with food, blankets, and clothing. This is a story of a city that has been shaken out of its self-absorption to render the true cost of homelessness and the wealth found in friendship and family. We are wealthy in each other.
As homes and belongings get washed down the river, I am so incredibly grateful it is not people. The fatalities have been few and that is impressive. It speaks to our collective wealth as Canadians that we can avoid so much tragedy that happens in natural disasters in less wealthy countries.
As I sit writing, with power, clean drinking water (from the Tap!), a dry home, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude. It reminds me of how I felt when I did overnight volunteering for Inn from the Cold, an agency for Calgary’s homeless. After spending all night awake, making lunches, I would come home, sink into my bed and pillows and blankets and feel gratitude in every cell. I feel that now.
I also acknowledge how much I am attached to my own belongings. I notice how much I am attached to my worries and small concerns. All I can do now is wait for the call for volunteers and to help where and when I can. In the meantime, I can hold a vision of the resilience of the people who have been affected.
I see so clearly, Calgary is a city that is more than buildings and roads. Calgary is us. Calgary is people joining together in community. We are wealthy in each other.