The flood emergency continues. We are now in our fifth day of the state of emergency and the gargantuan task of cleaning up has truly begun.
After the initial crisis that saw about 100,000 being evacuated and our two rivers cresting around midnight on Friday night at about four times the height of our last big flood in 2005, attention on Sunday turned to going home.
On Saturday, a few small areas were opened up for return, but on Sunday the City made the bold move of opening up the majority of areas for return, including some of the hardest hit areas. And on Sunday afternoon, people got to go home and see the devastation.
Words cannot express what was found. Wading through 12 inches of slurry-like mud that covered the streets and yards, homeowners found that same layer of mud covering everything the water had touched inside their homes as well. Walking down the streets, you can see the line on the outside of the houses of how high the water reached, a basement here, to the middle of the first floor over there, halfway up the driveway next door. The almost unperceived undulations and shifts in the land made it appear almost random as to which house was flooded and how hard.
To say that people had to cleanup is an understatement. What people had to do was gut. Gut their homes of everything. The damage inside the houses was so extensive that little was salvageable. Everything had to go, right down to bare studs. The mud on the street and lawns became covered in furniture and drywall, insulation and appliances.
In a way, it very quickly becomes a race against time. The need to get your house stripped down in order for it to dry out is pressing. The longer you wait, the more the danger of mould and longer term structural damage. Slipping and sliding through the goo, emptying your home into the mud on the side of the street was the imperative.
This wasn’t just furniture and drywall on the side of the street, this was peoples memories, their lives. You could see in the sodden books and photographs lives lived, cherished memories; all lying in the mud waiting for the dumpster.
And my heart broke.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.