Thank you.

We did it.  We actually did it.  This past week, we raised more than $5200 for my dear friends Ange and Ryan, whose home was devastated by the Calgary flood on Friday, June 21st.

With only a 30-minute evacuation notice given, Ange and Ryan were forced to pack up their two young daughters and flee their home as the sewers backed up and the river raged just a few blocks away.  Most streets were dry when they left, but less than 24hours later, they had murky, hazardous water up to the ceiling in their basement.  Wedding albums…children’s clothes and toys…textbooks…washer…dryer…basement fridge…furnace…hot water tank…all ruined beyond repair.  Their lives will forever be defined as ‘before the flood’ and ‘after the flood’.

182As you’ve undoubtedly seen in the media, Calgary has rallied together and gone into crisis-mode.  What you may not have seen, is the emotional toll the flood has taken on so many lives.  Because along with the flood waters comes a feeling of powerlessness.  Along with the cleanup comes feelings of shock and despair.  Along with the rebuild comes feelings of sadness and loss.

This has been an emotional week for me.  Ange is one of my closest friends- she was the first person I met when I moved to Toronto, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, she is my confidante, my listening ear, my sounding board.  The Sunnyside neighborhood in which she lives is also near and dear to my heart- it’s where I lived for three of my University years, where I began to figure out my life’s path, where I connect to when I think of Calgary.  I’ve lived in Ontario for a decade, but I’ll always be an Albertan at heart.

To see pictures of my friends rolling up their sleeves to help haul mud out of Ange’s basement, water-logged garbage to the curb, and insurance-claim items to the backyard has made me feel far away and helpless.  I want to be there to take her kids to the park.  I want to be there to deliver meals.  I want to be there to help.  And since I cannot, the next best thing is to send money to help.

I set up a fundraising campaign online last Tuesday afternoon, and for the next 72 hours I could think of little else.  And as the money poured in, I began to feel a bit less helpless and a bit more helpful.  To the more than 70 people who generously donated, I hope you felt that too.  I hope you felt the difference you were making.  I hope you felt the power of coming together.  I hope you felt the appreciation, the gratitude, the all-encompassing thankfulness.

On Friday afternoon, as the donations continued to roll in and we exceeded our $5000 target, I began to cry.  It was a complete shoulders-heaving, breath-catching, tears-streaming ‘ugly cry’.  Because we did it.  And even more than the money, much more than the money, we showed Ange and Ryan that they are loved and supported during this disaster.

They will rebuild, and we’ve helped them start.

Thank you.

View of the basement, with only the top two stairs visible.

Their basement: only the top two stairs are visible.

Another view of the flooded basement.  Do you see the fridge floating on the right?

The view through the basement window. Do you see the fridge floating on the right?

The mud that remained after most of the water was pumped out.

The mud that remained after most of the water was pumped out.

More than 2 feet of water in the backyard.

More than 2 feet of water in the backyard.

Round one of basement-emptying.

Round one of basement-emptying.

Round two.

Round two.

Using the backyard for insurance-claim items.

Using the backyard for insurance-claim items.

Day 4.  Progress!

Day 4. Progress!

***If you want to make a donation, please click here.


#WeAreCalgary

Helpless.  Devastated.  Shocked.  Overwhelmed.  Stunned.  Saddened.  Concerned.  Scared.  Many people felt these emotions last week as the water roared and the rivers rose in flood-ravaged Southern Alberta.  I know I felt them all, and I live more than 3000km away.

But… my roots are in Alberta.  My memories are in Alberta.  My friends and family are in Alberta.  

The basement apartment I lived in during most of my University days, in the middle of water-logged Sunnyside, just one block from the Bow River, was most surely underwater.  The river paths where I ran countless miles are likely wiped out.  The restaurants I worked in, the coffee shops I studied in, the parks I relaxed in, will all be covered in mud, mess, and debris.  It seems surreal from afar; it must seem much more surreal up close.  By the time I get back to visit, the damage will have been cleaned up.  The fresh emotion will have abated.  The reminders of the flood will still be there, but the destruction will not.  I find myself experiencing a ‘survivor’s guilt’ of sorts.

To my dear friends who were evacuated from their homes:  I am glad you listened to evacuation orders and did not question the danger.  I am glad you are safe.  I hope that you are allowed back soon, if not just for the physical comfort of home, but for the emotional comfort.

To my dear friends who have seen their neighbourhoods decimated by flood waters:  I am glad you have community support to rely on.  I am glad you are helping each other.  I am so sorry this happened to you.

To my dear friends who have had their homes destroyed:  I am glad you are able to begin the process of cleanup.  I am glad you are looking to the future.  The long journey of rebuild has begun.

You see, the thing is, Albertans are a strong bunch.  And they will clean up, reconstruct, and repair.

wearecalgary

***You can donate to the ‘Alberta Floods Fund’ via the Canadian Red Cross here.

***You can donate directly to two of my very best friends and their two young daughters by clicking here.  

Their home was destroyed.