We are not alone. Calgary Flood 2013

At the end of the day

At the end of the day

I am struggling and I am not alone.

Those words drifted through my mind yesterday as I sat in a chair listening to my friend Kerry Parsons talk about her experiences at the Alia Institute last week in Halifax. Far from the raging waters of the Bow and Elbow, Kerry and many others were immersed in conversations and exploration of ‘authentic leadership’.

And as she spoke the thoughts of the disaster rattled through my mind. “Why I sitting here doing nothing? I’ve got to get busy. I’ve got to pitch in”.

And then this though surfaced like a warm blanket of ease to comfort me, “I am struggling and I am not alone.”

It is true. I am struggling. As is every Calgarian and all of our neighbours in southern Alberta. The damage, says BMO Nesbitt is somewhere between $3 and $5 billion. Hello? that’s a spread of $2 billion unknown damage. High or low side of their estimates though, it’s a whole lot of damage.

And we are struggling. Struggling to make sense of what happened. Struggling to know what to do next. Struggling to keep ourselves, and our families together. Struggling to get it done now when all we can do is stand in the ‘creative tension’ of our undoing by the raging flood waters.

And we are not alone.

We are one community, together, moving forward, through, over and under, around and between everything in our path.

We are not alone.

My daughter and mother are still evacuated as are tens of thousands of others. But, good news, over 35,000 people have been able to return home. And when they have, they have been met by a phalanx of volunteers standing ready to pitch in, lend a hand, get to work.

Take the Children’s Cottage. Its Bridgeland shelter was evacuated on Thursday night. On Sunday, Executive Director, Patty Kilgallon was allowed in to survey the damage on Sunday afternoon. When she arrived, she was met by JL Construction and 40 family, friends and strangers who pitched in to pump the place out, tear out dry-wall, carry out garbage and soaked furniture to get the place ready to receive the children home this week. In tears she told a news reporter of how incredibly empowering it was to have so much unexpected and welcome help. When JL Construction (I hope I have their name right — I heard her interviewed on the radio while driving to my office yesterday and didn’t write it down), anyway, when they were finished pumping out the Children’s Cottage basement, they continued on down the entire street pumping out every single basement.

That’s the Calgary spirit. We are not alone.

At Neighbourlink, food trucks have been arriving to serve up delicious food — for free. This is happening all over the city. The food truck phenomena spreads far and wide, the hosts of the trucks handing out free food to volunteers — and then, a stranger will walk up and pay for all the food. It is phenomenal.

Also at Neighbourlink yesterday, a company from Red Deer sent down a semi-trailer full of donations. And, a call out for an empty semi to store all the donations their team and volunteers are processing resulted in 20 minutes later, Suncor Energy jumping in with a donation of a truck, complete with delivery and team of volunteers.

My daughter’s workplace team headed out to Bowness in the morning, pitched in all day cleaning up mess there and then, when she called me at 5:00 she was on her way to Roxborough to help out a friend’s family who needed all hands on deck to salvage their home from the wreckage. When she arrived home at 9 she was exhausted but happy. And in all the activity her own concerns about when will she be able to go back home were forgotten.

But it is stressful for her, and my mother and the 600 other seniors who still cannot return home to their Bridgeland apartments.

I am struggling and I am not alone.

I am tired and I am not alone.

I am weary and I am not alone.

I am grateful and I am not alone.

I am inspired and I am not alone.

I am doing my best and I am not alone.

There are still those in emergency evacuation shelters.

They are scared and they are not alone.

And there are those returning home. They are worried and they are not alone.

It is not until they walk into their neighbourhoods that they see what awaits them. It is not until they step through the door that they can see the mess. For some, the devastation is beyond repair. For many, there is much work to be done. For some, there is nothing to be done other than to check for damage in dark corners of their basements. For some, there is nothing to do but start again. All over. And in the starting again, they are not alone.

It reassures me this thought. I am not alone. It gives me comfort. Solace. We are human beings and our DNA is programmed for connection, for belonging, for community.

We may be struggling, but in our struggle we are not alone.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed, text, called. I appreciate your thoughts and words and support and warm caring. You remind me, I am not alone.

And thank you Kerry and Sheryl — the time spent conversing, sharing, inspiring one another gave me great peace. You reminded me, I am not alone.

16 thoughts on “We are not alone. Calgary Flood 2013

  1. Thank you Louise … I SO needed to read those words you have written … you help put it all into perspective … Again, thank you!


    • You are so welcome Bev. It is easy to feel that sense of loss, of aloneness, of confusion — and when I remember — I am not alone – I remember all the people around me, moving with me, carrying themselves onward with me, beside and behind and in front of and all around me. It is a lovely feeling of moving all together as one..


    • Thank you Katie — and it is so true. I love your spirit, your warm, bright light, your energy. I know in your hands and in the hands of all your generation this world will never be left alone to wither and die. Thank you.


    • So true Susan — and knowing ‘we are not alone’ allows each of us to connect through our pain so we can move towards the promise. Hugs my friend. With your eyes here to see everything that is happening I can only imagine the amazing photos you would create!


  2. Today I returned to Sunnyside to hep out. After working at one home where we got a basement cleaned up, I was called to a lunch line up at the Disaster Cafe, a streetside barbecue and food line up completely staffed by volunteers and survivors of the flood. I heard from a lady who sat next to me that there was a friend of hers who had had a meltdown . So that was my next call, I was introudced and we just talked for a while. I did my Efit coaching right there on the spot and just listened and chatted. She was heartened to know just how much support was there. WE then went downstairs and bit by bit, we got her to agree that she had to let go and just let us volunteers get her basement cleaned up. And then a troupe of people showed up from the Beltline Community. They haven’t been allowed into their homes, no power, so they were out helping. =!! A”nd by gosh, we got the job done. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be of service in a trying and difficult time. We are all blessed by this show of spirit and joy and determination. Louise, you are a beacon for us all and we are glad you are in our lives. YOu get Free REikin anytime you want it and I am sending it to you right now as we speak,


    • John, I am so grateful you are here helping out, pitching in, listening and supporting people. Your comments made me smile and made me cry. My heart melted for that woman, and you helped me feel the relief of knowing so many people are out there helping out. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      It’s been interesting, sitting in my office, responding to queries from the homeless sector, keeping our stakeholders updated to see how much has to be done, and how much is being done even in such a short time. What an amazing community we are! Hugs

      (and yup — I’ll be looking forward to that Reiki).


      • I start a new job next week. I have been hired at West Jet to work as a Sales Agent. I have limited time but I am ready to get to work as much as possible. I need to take today off to clean my house but Thursday and Friday are clear. What do you need my dear?


  3. ♥ Having dealt with the recent tornadoes and my parents in Oklahoma…I am amazed at so many that “decide” to choose on the side of being positive even in all the uncertainty and mess. Attitude does make a huge difference. You are right. You are not alone. ♥ And there are so many people, even strangers, that long to help. Prayers for you and yours ~


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