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Flood 2013 Volunteerism

On Thursday, July 4th, the GlobalFlow barbecue was pulled to High River to help feed volunteers helping with the cleanup in that community. The picture below includes (from left to right) Jeremy Sylvain, Lorie Travis, and Vanessa Davidson (GlobalFlow employees); Holly Vaughan and Elisa Reynolds (Pengrowth employees); and Tory Nudd (Zedi employee). In true Alberta spirit, everyone worked together to support their friends and neighbours.

High River Flood Volunteers

With the impact of the Southern Alberta Floods on many GlobalFlow communities and their neighbours, Cam wanted to bring to your attention the extraordinary efforts of one GF employee to make a difference. Lorie Travis, acting GM of the Automation BU, spent a good part of her time last week and this week helping those who were in need in her community. Her account of what she did and saw and how it affected her is below. Please take a few minutes to read it.

Since the downtown core was closed down all last week, things were pretty quiet at GlobalFlow. Tuesday morning I was talking to Devon Mildenberger and he mentioned a website called www.yychelps.ca. It seemed that was the place to go if you wanted to volunteer. I felt I just couldn’t sit around the office when so many people needed help.

So I checked it out, and what an amazing website. Volunteer opportunities were posted, including where, how many people were required etc. You just signed up and then went! My first sign up was for Tuesday afternoon. I threw everything I thought I would need in the back of the van and drove down there. I went to Mission to a place right next to the Elbow River, across from Lindsay Park. I really had my eyes opened to the damage that was done to Calgary. As I was walking to my destination (the street was closed and I had to park a few blocks away), I saw people covered head to toe in mud. It looked like a war zone. The two small condos where I went had been completely under water. We were pulling cereal boxes from the top kitchen cupboards that were completely soaked. There were about 10 of us. I don’t think any of us even introduced ourselves to the owners. We just kept pulling stuff out of the condo and taking it to the curb. Everything was lost. The same day I went to another area of Mission and helped clean up some drywall at a big beautiful just completed house. Everyone on that street seemed to be in good spirits and the amount of volunteers walking in to help was amazing.

The next day I signed up to help clean up at Camp Kiwanis at Hwy 8 and 22. There were 30 people that showed up. I spent a couple of hours with someone named Ross washing down the floors in a log cabin. That river mud is sure hard to get rid of. They had so many volunteers I decided to go to Bragg Creek and see who needed help. I stopped at the community center, which was a hive of activity. They had signup sheets all ready and I was sent down the street to help clean out a garage. At first I thought these people were hoarders, but it turns out they had downsized and stored all their extra stuff in the garage. Most of it had to be thrown away. There were 8 of us there helping. Their yard was a mess. After that was finished I wandered over to have a look at the river, since I was only a few houses away. About 40 feet of bank was gone and the front part of a beautiful house was hanging in midair. Part of the highway was gone as well.

The next day was the train bridge failure (Thursday) so I couldn’t get to work. Bummer. I went out to Bow Cres to help clean up instead. The community center sent me to an address of an elderly couple who needed help cleaning out their basement. There were six of us cleaning out 40 years’ worth of stuff and putting it either in the garbage or the back yard if it was salvageable. I think they both were in shock, but everyone helped raise their spirits and look at the bright side – they got rid of all the stuff they didn’t want anymore. Bow Cres had been closed off that day. Weatherford had a bbq set up and were feeding everyone. Kids were going up and down the street offering cold water and sandwiches. As fast as we could get the stuff to the curb, people in their own half tons were loading it up and taking it away. After we had cleaned the stuff out of the basement, a group from Samaritan’s Purse came in the removed the doors, drywall, wood etc. The rest of us carted it to the curb. When I left that day, the street was quiet and ALL the garbage was gone. It was absolutely amazing the amount of people that had been there that day to accomplish such a large task. I was amazed at the amount of young people that were out. I think Nenshi and his twitter account had a lot to do with that.

Friday I went to work. Then Saturday I went to help clean up at the RCA golf course next to Burnco, off Glenmore. What a mess that place was. There had been six inches of mud left on the whole course. The clubhouse and out buildings were a mess. 50 of us scraped and shovelled the tees and greens but I think it might be a while before they can open again.

On Monday, July 1st I went to help the Stampede people pack up the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ t-shirts. They had sold so many they couldn’t get them out the door fast enough. But they had run out of XXL and couldn’t pack any more at that time. There was 30 people that showed up, so 20 of us went home.

Today, Thursday, July 4th, we’re heading down to High River with the Global Flow barbecue to work with Zedi, cooking burgers for the PenGrowth group. They have been sending 60 volunteers every day by bus to High River.

Throughout all of this, I met an amazing number of people. I only have their first names and know what neighbourhood of Calgary they were from. The amount of volunteers was staggering. People and businesses used their own vehicles and equipment. Although I’m not sure how they’re going to get that drywall cement off?

It’s been a humbling experience to see people lose everything and still remain grateful and cheerful. It’s been amazing to see the firemen and police services in action, and the organization of the community centers. I’ve just been glad I could help.

Lorie Travis, Acting GM, Automation

Chances are, everyone one of us knows someone who was impacted by this flood to some degree. Although we may not be able to personally experience the loss and devastation and wonders of the infinite human spirit, like Lorie did, we can all play a part in the recovery.