The waters recede. Our spirits remain high. We begin.

And so it begins.

The flood waters have receded and in their departure the city begins to survey the damage.

It is extensive. It is heart-breaking. It is stunning.

But it is not the end.

My City is a city of spirit. Of strong people. Of people willing and able to withstand even Mother Nature’s fury with a smile, a Howdy, how can I help? Let’s get to work kind of attitude.

And that’s what’s happening today.

The work begins. My daughter received an email from her boss at Shaw Communications. The communications team are mustering via phone at 8 and then, off to help out in the community.

My team at the Calgary Homeless Foundation are meeting at 9 and then, going to where ever we are needed.

And the same story continues throughout places of employment.

Mother Nature may have been alone in creating this devastation, but we are not alone in our recovery.

We are all connected. We are all together. We are all one community.

Over the weekend the man who stands out for his amazing grace, spirit and capacity to be everywhere at once letting people know they are not alone is our Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Thank you Mayor Nenshi. You have inspired an entire city, province and country with your unflagging support, your focus on ‘people first’, and your calm delivery of facts and information. Your team has handled this emergency with incredible professionalism and done a stellar job of keeping all of us informed and calm. Thank you.

There are so many people who have done so much over the past 4 days — seriously? has it only been 4 days? — and their willingness to put people first, to do whatever it takes to make sure people are safe is incredible. Police. Fire. Bylaw. Alberta Health Services. Calgary Emergency Response Services. Red Cross. The list is extensive.

While volunteering at one of the evacuation centres, I was in awe of everyone’s capacity to simply help. To lend a hand, ear, voice to people in such enormous emotional distress. They kept everyone calm with their compassionate response.

and, as always happens in this city, the Calgary Stampede Volunteers make an enormous difference. I worked with women and men who have never dealt with people in this position before and who made it look like second nature. There was Shirley who, faced with a distressed man who kept insisting he could not sleep in a room with others, gently and caringly talked to him for 2 hours to calm him down. There was my brother-in-law Jim who could not put stop helping out at the Evac Centre down the road from their house. There was Suzanne who, when trying to find a space for a woman who mobility issues, a wheelchair that needed plugging in and many health needs, simply sat quietly with the woman creating a plan to ensure the woman felt safe and well-cared for.

And there are countless other such incidents.

Like my daughter and her fellow evacuee Laura who, along with a group of her friends volunteered all afternoon at the Calgary Drop-In’s emergency shelter location at Greenview (the downtown building was in the path of the floods and everyone was evacuated Friday morning) sorting donations and lending a hand where ever needed — like so many others.

There’s the team of the DI (the shelter where I used to work and where my heart still belongs). Mark. Natalie. Jorge. Jane. Dana. Michael. Bruno. Paul. and so many others — you still inspire me. thank you for all you are doing to ensure no one gets lost on our streets.

There’s Kathy Christiansen at Alpha House whose shelter was evacuated on Thursday afternoon and who all weekend, along with her staff, kept turning up at the Evac centres to ensure their clients were safe. Their DOAP team van was out in every quadrant of the city helping where ever possible to ensure the safety of everyone. As the waters flowed in around her knees on Thursday afternoon, Kathy and some staff, with police assistance, entered the building to retrieve important documents and to ensure their servers were safe, so that her team could keep working no matter what. Their shelter was hit hard.

There’s Phoenix from CHF who knocked on every door of our building in Bowness, along with Andrea from CUPS to ensure all tenants were safe and who then, throughout the weekend kept checking on those who refused to leave.

So many stories of greatness. So many acts of bravery. Of selflessness. Of humility.

This is a great city. We are a spirited people and we will get through this. So take that Mother Nature. Thank you for shining brightly today. We appreciate the sun. But know this. We, the people of Calgary will continue to shine through rain, flood and now into the aftermath.  You can beat us up Mother Nature, but you can’t beat us down.

and to all our neighbours who have been decimated by these floods — our hearts and prayers are with you too. We are not just one city. We are one province and we will always be one community.

And now, gotta run. There’s mopping up to be done. Flood waters to clear out and work to be accomplished.

For those in Calgary looking for a way to volunteer — please check out

1:45 a.m., June 24, 2013 Volunteer Call-out
Calling volunteers (and their smiles) to help welcome residents back to their homes on June 24 starting at 10 a.m.

The City is looking for volunteers (18 years or older) to knock on residential homes to help welcome their fellow Calgarians back into neighbourhoods, providing information on flood recovery and other community resources will help residents transition back into their homes.

Please meet at McMahon Stadium at 10 a.m.on June 24.

Volunteers should bring appropriate footwear, bug spray, weather appropriate clothing, sunscreen, cell phone, water and snacks.

Once at McMahon Stadium volunteers will be asked to fill out a volunteer form.  Volunteers will then be bussed to different sites around the city and back to McMahon at the end of the day.  The day will go from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thank you and please stay tuned for future volunteer opportunities.

For photos and more stores:  check here 

8 thoughts on “The waters recede. Our spirits remain high. We begin.”

  1. Water is both life-giving and life-taking. The photos of the destruction are heart-breaking but what is also clear is how quickly everyone mobilized to help out. Incredible spirit at work there!


  2. I’m always astounded by how natural disasters like this bring out the best in ‘most’ people and how people work together to do what needs to be done. It was the same with the floods in Australia last year.

    If only we could harness even some of this human spirit in everyday life then the world would be a much nicer place.

    Hugs to you my friend


  3. your spirit and determination have made me a better person. I spent several hours today and went to the community of Sunnyside to help some people clean out their basement. Just showed up and did what had to be done. I am very blessed to have been part of that and I owe a lot of my inspiration to you!!!I now plan to hed out to Siksika or Morley to see what can be done.


    1. John, I read your words as I was about to go to bed last night, and they buoyed me up. (Gosh it is so hard to stay away from those water references! 🙂 ) Knowing that you are out there, like thousands of others, simply ‘doing your thing’ whatever that thing is, revitalizes me. And I am so grateful for your words about inspiring you. All my life I have wanted to inspire people to live their best — to give back, to simply give. And reading your words last night helped me feel less helpless! Thanks my friend. I appreciate you and all your doing. And yes, please do go help our neighbours at Siksika and Morley — these are extremely vulnerable communities and help is desperately needed.

      Hugs to you John — take your sunscreen and your bug repellent and your shovel! 🙂


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