Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Calgary’s State of Emergency

on June 23, 2013

I THOUGHT I was going to write about Banff today – discussing our “Yukon Ho” trip. We were coming down the IcefieldsUsed to be Inglewood Golf Course Parkway, till it met the Trans-Canada Highway, where we would go East, towards Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore, and finally, Calgary.

However, instead, I want to talk about the Trans-Canada today.   Actually, starting the day before yesterday, when it closed down, due to flooding and mudslides.

Southern Alberta is under a State of Emergency.

My city, Calgary, is under water, and it is TERRIBLE! TERRIBLE.

The Police are strongly suggesting people stay home, the downtown core has been evacuated, as well as homes along the Bow River, which runs through Calgary.  Around 100,000 people have been evacuated.  Businesses courtesy of Kris from Twitter - going to High Riverdowntown are unreachable, so people can’t go in to work.

The army has been brought in.  And (I’m proud to say) not because of violence and looting, but to rescue stranded people, and to help with clean-up (when that time comes.) Of course, they are, I’m sure, here to help maintain peace, but people are getting along pretty well.  (Except the fights I’ve read about on Facebook – about the purchase of drinking water.)

So far, we are allowed to continue drinking our water, but the Water Treatment Plant has been submerged, and we are supposed to use our water cautiously (because of silt, I’ve read).  When there was a hint of massive flooding, we went out and bought 20 gallons of drinking water, so we don’t really have a panic.  We also are supplementing our water with wine and beer…Used to be Inglewood Golf Course

Four districts in Calgary (as of Friday) had no power (I read 30,000 people)- their transformers are under water… and we don’t know how that will affect us.  We are fine now.  Our internet is ebbing and flowing, but it could be coincidental.

We, personally, live about 500 feet above the flooding River (if you can call it a “river” now – it’s more like a GIANT grayish-brown lake, flowing at 1500 feet per second, with white caps and debris), so we don’t have to worry about the direct impact.
Golf Course, courtesy of Leora

But, we’ve had friends who’ve had to evacuate their homes (middle of the night rescues Thursday night) after the police went door to door, strongly suggesting that they leave.  (“Strongly suggesting” in that they weren’t arresting people, but just stuck around until the resident left or someone came to pick them up….at least that’s what happened to one of our friends…)

The Calgary ZoMeanwhile in Alberta, Calgary Zooo is an island in the Bow River, and is now completely under water.  The animals were all safely evacuated. Rumor has it that the Wild Cats are in jail…
Kool 101.5 The Cats from the Zoo are in Jail

By Friday night, the rain was stopping, and everyone was “hunkering down” for the night.  The police were out on mountainhttp://neilzellerphotography.zenfolio.com/ bikes, patrolling downtown, people in shelters were finding their spots, and those who got to stay in our own houses (maybe with guests) were saying our prayers for the safety of others… (and also, updating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with pictures from the day, or “borrowed” from friends and media.)

I woke up Saturday morning early, and the sky was blue and the sun wasSunshine on a cloudy day shining – it was glorious!  The day before seemed too surreal – the sun was so happy, it seemed like the flood and darkness might have just been a nightmare.  Technically, I knew that wasn’t true, and I felt a little…selfish…that I could look into my backyard and not know that just “right over there” over the hill, in my own neighborhood, was terrible, terrible flooding.

The reports say that one of the rivers (The Elbow) had stabilized and was no long rising…not receding, but at least not rising.  And, the other river, the larger one (The Bow) was also not rising or receding, but we should expect surges throughout the day, depending up what was happening up-stream.

Today (Saturday), the pictures on social media are hopeful (sunshine does that) – people being rescued, pets being rescued, boats with fireman going up and down the streets, hopes of some neighborhoods being able to return home … Plans are being made for restoration, although it’s way too soon to start….
Virgin Morning ShowUP! RadioAMP Radio 2

And, then… it started to rain again…  Such as sinking feeling…  I couldn’t even look…

Leah Hennel, Calgary HeraldMeanwhile, I’ve been talking about Calgary, because this is where I live… but upstream, Banff and Canmore  have also suffered so much destruction, including water and mudslides wiping out the Trans-Canada Highway.

The www.emergencyalert.alberta.ca website has a listed of so many other towns and communities that are being affected, and who are on “critical” and “high” alert.

The site tells that “The Bow River Basin has received 250 millimeters of precipitation since Wednesday morning and the river levels are rising in response to heavy precipitation. There is a large amount of water travelling across land. This is leading to localized flooding.  The areas around the Bow river and its tributaries have reached dangerous flooding levels. ”  (250 millimeters is just about 10 inches…This report was Friday, around noon, Mountain Standard Time.)

So, I’ve checked out the Bow River Basin – it starts around Lake Louise, and eventually meets the Old Man River, right beforeBow River Basin http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/water.html Medicine Hat (which is about to be flooded – they’ve already started evacuating), where it becomes the South Saskatchewan River (which we visited in a previous blog), which will eventually run into the Arctic Ocean…

What I’ve learned is that the terrible (“terrible” is my word for everything about this flood – I want to be more imaginative, but my brain is tired from all the terribleness) flooding in High River isn’t caused from the same flooding that Calgary’s flooding is.  While ours is coming from the Bow River Basin, the HPhoto Credit to Nadiaigh River flooding is caused by the OldMan River Basin flooding… and the flooding at Bragg Creek is caused by flooding of Elbow River (we visited Elbow Falls in a previous blog)… Elbow River joins Bow River IN Calgary… 😦 Two flooding rivers meeting right in the middle of the city..   And all three rivers will come together right before Medicine Hat ….

I guess it really doesn’t matter, now, who/which “caused it.”

All that matters is:AMP radio - Banding together
~ that people and animals are safe and/or being rescued
~ that we realize the rescue teams are heros ~ some have even lost their own homes, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, they are out there, rescuing
~ that people continue to kind and patient towards eachother
~ the people don’t despair
~ that people don’t take advantage of the suffering of others

And, even though my brain keeps wanting to sing: “And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard ~ It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall“…  I keep insisting that, instead, it sings: “THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW“…

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