100 Days After the Flood

Today marks 100 days since the June flood, and I couldn’t help but be in awe as I walked through downtown this morning. The Ctrain was running smoothly, coffee shops were full of early morning commuters trying to jump start their day, and other than a brisk autumn breeze, everything felt perfect. It’s boggling to realize that just a few months ago this city was suffering through a record breaking flood that closed business and left people homeless for weeks. Although many people were negatively affected by the flood, what really stood out for me was how Calgary came together as a community.

As an organization that strongly believes in health and community, the YMCA quickly jumped into action to help out those in need. Our Shawnessy branch opened its doors and served as an evacuation centre for over 300 long-term care seniors for 3 days, where many of our staff members sacrificed their time (and sleep) to help serve the community.

Throughout the weeks and months that followed the flooding, the incredible kindness and generosity of both our staff and members shone through time and time again. Through a partnership with the Calgary Food Bank, donations centres were set up at all our membership branches to help gather essentials. It was great to hear about our members sending donations to help surrounding First Nations communities in their relief efforts as well. In times of need Calgarians truly reach out to everyone, whether they are neighbours just down the street or outside of the city.

The cleanup efforts all over the city were a glowing example of Calgary’s kindness and community spirit. Many of our staff pulled up their rubber boots and gloves and hit the streets to do their part in cleaning up our parks and neighborhoods. Being part of a community that eagerly took to the streets to haul buckets of mud and debris for weeks in the hot summer heat really makes you appreciate how great Calgarians are.

As a gesture of good will and support, we opened our doors to members of damaged Calgary fitness facilities throughout the city. Members from the Talisman Centre and Glencoe Club were given access to all of our open branches.

Watching the news and seeing images of iconic Calgary landmarks like the Stampede grounds and Price’s Island Park completely covered in water, you’d never think that just weeks later the city would be hosting the greatest outdoor show on earth. As a true testament to this city’s will and determination the 101st Calgary Stampede went on as scheduled, slightly modified, but fantastic as always. Bands and musicians from around the world entertained thousands of people at the Calgary Folk Festival, and summer festivities went on as planned.

Today marks 100 days since the flood swept through our city, and although not everyone has recovered, the incredible work and spirit of Calgarians can’t be denied. We’ve seen neighbours helping neighbours, strangers helping strangers, and unending examples of love and generosity. These past 100 days were tough, but they proved that there is nothing we can’t overcome when we work together as a community. 100 days where Calgary showed the world why this is the best city to live in. 100 days of hard work, determination, community spirit and most importantly, solidarity. It looks like Tennessee Williams was right; you can always depend on the kindness of strangers.