Ever since the heavy rainfall in the headwater areas of our various rivers, and the watches and then warnings started we have had a huge number of people who I consider to be HERO’S. They have taken many forms, men, women, and even children. People have been simply amazing.
I suppose I need to start with CEMA, (Canada Emergency Management Agency). I knew that this government body existed, but it has never really been tested, and I kept thinking of what FEMA did in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina destroyed a good part of Louisiana. That proved to be defective thinking, on a mega level. The guys here all got their stuff together right away, and then set in motion all the steps needed to mitigate loss of life and property. And do it they did!
The title of this writing is Hero’s, but it is very hard to pick big ones, and so I will offer up some of who I have read about. I will miss some folks for sure, and I apologise if you are reading this and your people are not listed. The oversight is mine.
From what I gather, CEMA in Calgary is headed up by our Fire Chief, and he works in tandem with other leaders in the community. I will start with the Fire Chief. Whenever he spoke on TV, he spoke in words we all can understand, and brought all his people into the picture, and there were loads of them. He kept track of all the comings and goings in the community, and then kept it all on track.
Next come the firefighters themselves, putting themselves out there in harms way rescuing trapped people, making sure there was nobody left behind after an evacuation order was issued. And they did this working up to 20 hours a day at the start of the emergency.
Keeping the firefighters company were the platoons of police to make sure that people who could not read or pay attention to anybody were going to be safe. The police simply would not take no for an answer, not always an easy task in a highly charged emotional atmosphere. From everything I have read, these people were out there in the weather again for all hours and kept us safe in spite of ourselves. And they kept their composure!
EMS people were out as well making sure that people who were injured for whatever reason got the care they needed. Hospitals in some areas were cut off, but the EMS people found a way to work around that.
Our military were called out to assist the volunteers with sandbagging, and they were a welcome sight. I am increasingly aware of the peacetime role of our nations military, in our own country. They come with a lot of experience operating heavy rescue and construction equipment. The have served in chaotic areas of our world, and come in with a “Can Do” attitude and the job just gets done. Most professional!
Other professionals were out and on the job, cutting off electricity, since even a dummy knows that water and electricity do not mix, without disastrous results. The folks at the gas companies had crews out keeping the situation safe by shutting off gas feeds and thereby preventing fires, from broken or damaged gas mains.
Then we had a lot of individuals who came out filling sand bags and putting them down. All these people working in harsh conditions, needed some fuel to keep going and there were a lot of those food trucks on site handing out coffee and hot food from their trucks. I bet they were tickled pink to do it as their part in the process. I bet then never once thought about the money. One small girl was handing out Tim’s doughnuts and coffee to the workers! How is that for starting volunteering at an early age.
One guy who has a portapotti company saw all those people on clean-up and heard they all needed to pee, as he said on TV, so he brought his portable units down and put them to use. His donation to the cause and a “welcome relief” at the same time! One other guy came down for a look in his own helicopter, and ended up rescuing people.
People were being put up in various areas of the city, many in city owned buildings, and the cars and trucks showed up with food, bedding, sanitary supplies, so that these temporary residents would be be comfortable. These were people who would likely return to their flooded homes, only to find them ruined by the flood, they had lost everything.
One guy, who had got caught up in a fast water flow and had lost his truck, rescued his cat by going out the back window of his truck. The cat loves water and was heading for dry ground when the driver got out and helped the cat ashore.
A pike was found a long way from the river, and got rescued by a young fisherman, and turned it over to the Fish and Game people. Another rescue, by a concerned citizen.
Now that the water has gone down, utilities are gradually being turned back on and people are going home to find an intolerable mess of mud, stink, mould, and a very hazardous building with rotting food, damaged walls, floors, appliances to deal with. You know what? Their friends and neighbours are coming by with face masks, old clothes and gloves to offer a hand in getting the mess cleaned out. Neighbours helping neighbours! A cliché I know but it is true.
Our premier, Allison Redford has promised to do whatever it takes to get the province back to normal, and has started by putting up a billion bucks for starters. No bureaucrats involved, just a statement of fact on what she is committing to do. After being very critical of what this lady has done in the past, I was tickled with her show of leadership.
All these people went the extra mile to try to make a very bad situation better, and I know I have missed a lot of them. I know you are out there, so include yourself in if you got missed. At my age I am a bit too old to go digging in the mud, building sandbags, so I did the next best thing, I sent some bucks to the folks who have boots on the ground who are helping out where it is needed. I chose the Red Cross, but the Salvation Army will also take your tax deductible donation if you prefer. Both organizations do a great job. The phone number for the Red Cross is 1 800-418-1111.
As we approach Canada Day, I am a very proud Calgarian, and Canadian. This is a wonderful city and province and country to have the privilege to live in. I am grateful to all the great work done by all those people who pitched in to help their neighbours during our time of need. Thank you Albertans, one and all. You are all HERÖ’S in my eyes. God Bless you all!