It has been a stressful week here in our town. We live in Alberta, which has been hit with widespread devastating flooding this past week. The destruction has been terrible, with whole towns wiped out, thousands and thousands of people losing their homes, their belongings and sadly some lives lost as well.
Our town of Medicine Hat, has been under a State of Emergency now since last Friday. Over ten thousand people under mandatory evacuation notice. Our population is only 65,000 people so one sixth of the entire population of our town evacuated.
Calgary was hit so hard with flooding that they had to release water from the dam outside of Calgary which feeds the Bow and the Elbow rivers which empty right into the South Saskatchewan River, which then comes down and right through Medicine Hat. As soon as they released water through the dam, Medicine Hat was facing flooding as well.
This is the flood water flowing under the Findlay Bridge. It is not even at crest levels here.
Medicine hat is divided into North and South sections and joined together with three bridges, the Findlay bridge, the Maple bridge and the Trans Canada bridge. As well there is a train trestle from one side to the other.
The water was just raging through, carrying tons of debris that they had to try and keep from damming up the river as well, so the water could flow through.
Thankfully like other Alberta communities there were not any houses destroyed and sent into the river. We just had a lot of river debris such as fallen trees, wood etc.
Roads were flooded over. This road leads to City Hall, the Court buildings and Remand center, the Library and downtown Medicine Hat.
The Police were a heavy presence in the town. I know, because in an effort to take some photos of flooded out and evacuated areas, we managed to get ourselves thrown out of one of the evacuation areas.
Some of the road closures were flooded over as well!
We were lucky to get some warning of the impending flooding, unlike areas like Calgary which did not get any warning and had some devastating damage done.
Red Cross came in right away and set up evacuation centers, and co-ordinated volunteer services. Soldiers came in and helped as well. Hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly well into the night to help with sandbagging, building berms, helping move people out of evacuation areas, and all the other countless jobs that go into preparing for the worst.
In my job, one of our company's Group homes was located right in the center of the biggest evacuation area and we had to evacuate our five individuals who call the house their home. We also had to evacuate our company offices, Day program for Adult and for Children, and our Cafeteria and training center. It was a huge job. We still do not know the condition of the group home, but we are working hard in five different locations now to ensure our individuals are safe, comfortable and secure until we can get them back into thier home again.
The river has crested as of yesterday and thankfully we weathered through. Only two of the three bridges were closed, our water and power systems for the town which were also located in the path of the flood managed to make it through. We have to boil water in some areas but that is a small price to pay! We never lost power or water where we live.
The stairs showing here at the water level are stairs that lead up to City Hall downtown.
It was weird to go downtown and not find anything open and the area covered in sandbags and plastic.
The worst of the water is now through, and we weathered it well. The work is nowhere near done though. The cleanup begins especially for the large flooded out areas. Some people will not be able to return to their homes for a long time, if ever.
I'm grateful to have come through unscathed, and my heart goes out to those who were directly impacted. Those who had to leave their homes, their posessions, whose livelyhoods were affected. But in the midst of this disaster, I am heartened to see kindness, selflessness, community, care and concern in every corner. And that is the beautiful thing about this terrible event.