I’ve been lucky.
I have power.
My community was not affected by the flood.
If you were here looking out my window, you would see green luscious grass and trees heavy with leaves – so much more greenery than I’ve ever seen in our typically dry climate.
You would see the guy across the street mowing the lawn.
If you were here and didn’t turn on the TV or check social media, you wouldn’t have a clue that anything happened at all.
It’s sunny. It’s warm and summery.
You would never guess that just blocks away, homes have no power. Entire basements and parking garages were flooded and family treasures have been destroyed.
As in tune as I’ve been on social media and images on the news, I’m always too late to help. A call for volunteers goes out and a group of hundreds, if not more answer the call to the point of volunteers having to be turned away.
I have offered my place. I have offered food. I have offered a shower. But always someone has offered a moment sooner.
A woman I know chose to hunker down with her cat in spite of the fact that she has no power, yet the waters did not affect her – her place is dry. Her office in Calgary’s Kensington district was ravaged by waters, and tenants in that building met the same fate. She took in one of the tenants who has lost everything except for the clothes on her back.
Most people have been allowed back to their homes to assess the damage. So my friend and I set out on foot to see where we could help. It was time to stop waiting to jump upon an organized effort and just do something.
There were many who already had friends and family helping. We were, however, able to help a few.
I never knew how crumbly drywall becomes when it’s wet, how easily it falls apart. We loaded the remnants of basement walls into a dumpster. On the lawn outside, the homeowner laid family photos out on a blanket to dry.
An English teacher across the street was helped by some homeless guys and she paid them for their efforts. (How kind of her) We volunteered our help and she assigned us to the dark basement with a small flashlight and a metal bucket to clear out the storage under the stairs. A couple of inches of water remained and she gave us each a pair of Crocs to wear for our work.
A wool blanket, a comforter, shoes, Christmas decorations, purses and other such items, mostly destroyed and dragged to the curb for the City of Calgary workers to pick up.
When interviewed by a reporter she said, “you know, it’s just stuff, it’s the people who matter.”
When we left she gave us this cart-like thing on wheels, saying it might be useful to us to haul stuff out for the next house we came upon.
We came upon a man who wanted to push his friend’s car out of the way. It was a standard and I felt like a real he-woman/hero for being the only one there who knew how to put it in neutral!
The streets and curbs were filled with damaged treasures wherever we went. Many people were sifting through piles of items to separate the salvageable from the now-garbage.
I wanted to take pictures to document this day, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to it. It just felt too intrusive to do so.
At the end of the day we were covered in mud and feeling pretty darn good that we were able to help some neighbours clean up.
People all over the city are responding.
Just in my neighbourhood, The Ship and Anchor and its neighbour The National both hosted barbecues for evacuees.
My neighbour hosted a concert to raise funds for flood victims. Sled Island was canceled but it’s rumoured that some showed up at my neighbour’s place to play!
And two young ladies set up an Italian Soda stand. All their proceeds going to support victims of the floods.
Although I have no photos of the clean up, I do have some you may be interested in below.
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~