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article imageFlood: Parts of downtown Calgary will be without power for months

By Grace C. Visconti     Jun 24, 2013 in Environment
Calgary - On Sunday, approximately 65,000 Calgarians were allowed to go home after being evacuated due to the worst flood in Calgary’s history. But the evacuation still stands for 10,000 people. The clean up continues downtown and in affected Alberta communities.
The cleanup continues in downtown Calgary and other southern Alberta communities that were ravaged by the worst flood ever witnessed in this area. Although 65,000 Calgarians were sent home after being evacuated, 10,000 were asked not to return to their homes yet. The damage was extensive not only to businesses but also to homes, depending on where the houses, condos, and apartments were located. This flood also hit First Nations communities hard in Calgary and southern Alberta.
One building that was extensively damaged was old City Hall. The Saddledome where the Calgary Flames play hockey and where concerts have been held, had extensive flooding. Stampede Park was one of the hardest hit areas as the brown mucky water covered a vast area, with the rooftops of buildings only visible. The clean up cost for the City of Calgary will be in the millions of dollars range.
This HUFFPOST ALBERTA article informs Calgary’s emergency management head says that Calgary’s downtown core could be without power for weeks or even months, reported the Globe and Mail. Although some parts of the city have restored power, the downtown core and several areas near downtown still have no power.
Edmonton fire crews are assisting in pumping out the water in many buildings. Another problem that has to be assessed is the infrastructure damage so power isn’t the only serious issue. The Globe and Mail has extensive coverage with videos that can be viewed here.
Southern Albertans who need updated information can check out two blogs: the 660News Live Blog or the CBC News Live Blog which can be viewed at the bottom of the page. These blogs come with striking photographs of the devastation in downtown Calgary. Also the “Calgary floods: What you need to know now” article, gives current evacuation updates, list of shelters for those who still have nowhere to go, list of recreation centres now open, where the power outages are and more.
Social media had once again played an important role during the floods and ensuing devastation. People posted comments and photos on twitter to let others know what was going on in their communities. On Friday evening, all of the bottled water in Calgary had been sold out. There were also lineups at grocery stores and some gas stations were out of gas. People were upset at some of the alleged price gouging going on, especially for bottled water so they uploaded their angry comments on to twitter and facebook warning others what was happening.
A view of Calgary immersed in flood waters
A view of Calgary immersed in flood waters
When Mayor Naheed Nenshi found out that there was price gouging going on for bottled water, he reminded everyone in a press conference that price gouging is illegal while Calgary was in a state of emergency. People were upset since water is a necessity and they felt as if they were being taken advantage of during this crisis. CBC reports on the price gouging story.
It‘s unbelievable that any store would even think of price gouging when people had lost their homes and belongings in this devastating flood. Social media played a very important role in keeping everyone informed so that the authorities could warn the storekeepers doing the gouging that it was illegal and they would be in trouble if it continued.
Some of the most popular hashtags on twitter were #abflood, #yycflood, and another special hashtag set up by 660 News was #yycfloodhero. Since the majority of reporters were not allowed into the flood zones, citizen journalism once again played a big role in disseminating information. Citizens kept everyone up to date on their stories and the conditions in their communities. The 660 News team invited Calgarians to post uplifting stories and random acts of kindness during this horrific crisis. A phone number was available if someone wanted to call into the station and an email was provided but many people posted their stories on twitter and facebook with accompanying photos.
A home in the neighbourhood of Elbow Park following heavy flooding in Calgary  Alberta.
A home in the neighbourhood of Elbow Park following heavy flooding in Calgary, Alberta.
ndy van der Raadt
For example, there were “amazing citizens” who drove through the ravaged Bowness area in close proximity to the Bow River, handing out food and drinks with smiles on their faces. The Carriage House Inn gave a reduced rate and food to a family in need. Kevin Altheim rescued a fawn from the river near Bowness. A guy named Joe showed up in the community of Sunnyside with a brand new generator, 2 pumps and 2 fans, a $500 value and he didn’t want them back. Calgary food truck owners served food to evacuees, emergency workers, and more. One woman spent the day helping a friend with a flooded house but there weren’t enough people to help until six strangers showed up. “Why I love, love #yyc,” she said. YYC is the airport short form identification for Calgary. The stories go on and on how Calgarians helped each other during this crisis. Also, people came from other cities and provinces to help. Check out the rest of the stories on twitter #yycfloodhero.
On the #yycflood and #abflood twitter feeds, many thanked the police, RCMP, Military, first responders, emergency personnel, and volunteers. Some RCMP, police and emergency responders had extensive damage to their own homes but they didn’t allow a personal distraction stop them from helping others in need.
Albertans are resourceful people and they will rebuild whatever cities and communities have been ravaged by this sudden storm. As Calgary prepares to host the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition from July 5 - 14, an army of volunteers, paid personnel, business owners, and City of Calgary officials, are determined to make it happen. The parade will go on as planned, and this devastating event will be part of Calgary’s past. But one aspect of this devastation will be remembered; how perfect strangers helped each other during a time of great need. The exemplary spirit of Calgarians and Albertans will live on.
More about Calgary, southern alberta, june 2013, Floods, downtown calgary
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