The last week has been strange. It has been heartbreaking and sad watching the devastation take out places I love. It was surreal that the flood just happened over night. Friday the city was taken by a collective sadness as we watched the destruction that nature has wrought on us. Then there are the moments that make me love this city. The City has done a pretty remarkable job. Where else would you hear about volunteers getting turned away?
Today I went to a flood relief event at the Hillhurst Sunnyside farmers market. It embodied both of the truly overwhelming things that the flood has made me feel. It was the first time I’ve really been to one of the reentry centres. It was weird seeing people dumping their stuff into bins. There was an old kennel and somebody tosed a muddy snowboard away. I wonder whether they’ll be on the hills come winter? There were piles of damaged fitness equipment that didn’t fit in the bins in the corner of the parking lot. Pieces of insulation and cardboard, bubble wrap, a glove, and mud liter the sidewalk and parking lot. This is what the flood feels like.
Then there was the relief event itself. I got food from the Hoodoo Foodoo food truck for whatever I was happy to donate. The guy who was manning the truck told me that he’d spent all day giving out food to Sunnyside residents. I think to myself this is a small business owner who is going above and beyond to help. The amount of time and ressources that food trucks have put in to help has blown my mind. I am overwhelmed by how impressive this is. It almost cancels out how sad I am thinking about all things that people have lost.
The turnout at the show is solid. It seems like a lot of Sunnyside residents are here. That sense of community is strong now more than ever. A few people attend in mud spattered clothes. Inside the reentry center has more food than they know what to do with. All the proceeds from the beer garden will be donated. These bands are giving their time. The food truck was giving resources. I offer the pictures I take of the event to the HSCA for whatever good that may do. Everyone is helping in whatever way they can. This flood may have been terrible but our response has been breathtaking.
The past week has been overwhelmingly contradictory and strange. The City is rebuilding at a remarkable pace. Nenshi has proven to be the leader we all knew he was. There could easily be a best memes of flood 2013 list. There are smiling volunteers in orange vests standing next to the dumpster filled with the muddy remnants of people’s lives. There is loss and there is remarkable kindness and giving. I am proud of my city. As Nenshi said, “today, you won’t see Calgary at its prettiest, but you will see Calgary at its best.”
Photos by RMK.