Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jig
To all my friends, colleagues and fans who’ve wished me well during the Calgary flood, my deepest thanks. Your good thoughts have seen me through this tough time and soothed my troubled spirits.
We’re back home now, and we’ve been really lucky. Although it took 11 days to get back in, we were safe and in a good hotel where they treated us well. (I highly recommend the Courtyard Marriott in Calgary, by the airport.) So many people did not have that option. We don’t have family in this city, so would have had no place to go, except for a public shelter, if not for the kindness of friends and the availability of a good hotel room. We also do not have a car (we choose to live with public transit, and so live in the city rather than out in the burbs). Associated Cab, here in Calgary, has been excellent, getting us to the businesses in safe zones when we needed to get something (like prescriptions!). They found their way around all kinds of road blocks and highway closures and were unfailingly polite.
And our possessions were always safe. Save for the possibility of the building being condemned (very remote), we live on the 8th floor, so we knew that water would not get to our stuff. After 11 days without electricity, our refrigerator was our biggest problem. That’s hardly a problem at all. Many, many homes were devastated in the flood, called the biggest natural disaster to hit Calgary ever. The small businesses in our neighborhood all have their doors closed as they try to rebuild. While these are not “marginal businesses,” any kind of loss like this hits individuals as well as businesses. Imagine all the serving staff, clerks, and cleaning crews that now have no jobs to go to. Those people suffer badly.
The volunteer spirit here in Calgary has been nothing short of awesome. Everyone is pitching in. There’s always a sandwich offered by a volunteer, a bottle of water, an ear to listen to an evacuee’s woes. And neighbors who were less affected are quick to help those whose homes were hit hard. Mud is everywhere, and the city has been quick to get power to buildings and clean up crews absolutely everywhere they were needed. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has been a shining example of honest, helpful public service. He was right on top of everything and gave frequent updates. No pontificating. No puffy speeches. No election maneuvering. Only help and status updates. And, remember, my friends, I’m not a citizen here; I can’t vote. But if I could, he would have earned that vote, hands down. Our alderman (local city councilman), John Mar, was equally on top of things. He provided updates, hand-holding, and practical advice throughout. And, let’s not forget the head honcho, Alison Redford, the premier (governor) of Alberta Province. She’s been everywhere, helping, getting dirty, making sure that evacuees know that the province is behind them, offering everything they could to make things right. She, too, would get my vote, though my impression is that elections were the last thing on her mind.
Calgary Stampede, the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world, although hit hard, will go on as planned, only 15 days after being inundated. There was 15 feet of water in the stadium alone. But the great volunteer spirit of Calgarians is making it happen. They called for 600 volunteers and got 2,300. Is that amazing, or what? Kudos to everyone who’s pitching in. We’re looking forward to our first Calgary Stampede and we know it’ll be a magical experience, wrested with a vengeance from the hands of disaster.
As for me, I’ll be back at work tomorrow (Tuesday), much as usual. I’ve been lucky in a million ways. Thank you, everyone, for keeping my spirits up. I appreciate you.