Saturday, June 22, 2013
Surf's Up - Calgary-Style
Unless you've had no contact with the outside world you'll know that Calgary is in the middle of a devastating flood. As I noted earlier Calgary has three seasons; winter, monsoon and drought. It's rained pretty much steadily and heavily for the past three weeks, but in a 24 hour period about eight inches fell in the mountains above us, with smaller, yet definitely not needed amounts at the lower altitudes. Compounding the problem, the rain in the mountains melted much of the higher than normal snow-pack, adding more water.
Calgary lies in a natural bowl created by glacial flow thousands of years in the past. Two rivers run through this bowl, the Bow and the Elbow. The city was originally built at the site where those two rivers converged. In the past couple of days both rivers have been flowing at 10 times their normal volume and speed, overflowing the dams, and rushing through every low-lying neighbourhood in the city. A hundred thousand people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Calgary and surrounding communities. Thankfully, we are well out of the evacuation zone. If you look at the map, to the far right in about the middle in the community of Pembrook Meadows. That is where we are, so we are well out of harm's way.
All the downtown high rises, offices and hotels have been evacuated. The power has been turned off downtown due to flooding of wet electrical transformers.
Still there is no chaos and no panic, in large part because our mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has been on his feet non-stop keeping everyone informed and reassured since the crisis began. He even opened his home to several seniors who had been evacuated from their assisted living facility. It is no mystery why Nenshi is Canada's highest ranked mayor.
The Stampede Grounds are totally under water, as the Elbow River wraps around the site. The Stampede is scheduled to open two weeks from today. People are already volunteering to pitch in and clean up the grounds and buildings so the Stampede can open on time. Calgary is vibrant and very community-centred. People have a reputation for pitching in and helping each other. Thousands are already overwhelming the city offices with offers of any kind of help needed, from shoveling mud from flooded basements to feeding emergency workers.
And though the photo of flooding in a backlot in the downtown is genuine, the Orcas have been photoshopped in - I think. LOL