WE ARE ONE

Lasha Morningstar

July 15, 2013

Massive disaster slipped by our province in recent times. Then the tornado tore its murderous path through Edmonton in 1987. After that, the Pine Lake tornado ripped through a campground in 2000. Now flood waters have rampaged through southern Alberta drowning homes, towns, livelihoods, wildlife, people, landscapes, infrastructure, farm animals . . . and more.

Northern cities and towns were hit too, but not as severely.

Nature's wrath knows no boundaries. She knows no discrimination between rich and poor.

Scientists are finally being heard as they talk about global warming and how cities, provinces, countries must develop now not only carbon reduction strategies but also catastrophic weather plans, including nudging insurance companies to devise plans where flooding is covered.

Right now though, our southern neighbours need help.

Poignant stories abound. Edmonton first responders forgo days off and head to Calgary to work. They return with stories not only of the devastation but also of Calgarians' grace and gratitude that they came to help them.

CAN MAN DAN

Can Man Dan, Dan Johnstone, is known in this city for gathering truckloads of food tins for the Edmonton Food Bank. But he and his employer, Morrison Homes, answered the deluged southerners' need and gathered truckloads of relief and left June 28 to deliver their goods to the Calgary Food Bank.

Citizens here, including artisans selling their crafts to Tim Hortons baking an Alberta Wild Rose donut, gave part or all of the monies to flood relief. The company folk say they hope to raise at least $120,000 from this wild rose campaign and have pledged another $100,000 to the fund.

Help from away came too. Trent Field, brother Jason and nephew Cody drove their industrial hydrovac from Saskatoon to Calgary and went home to home syphoning water out of the flooded basements - all for free. Trent Field told a Calgary reporter, "We get a lot of hugs, a lot of tears shed."

In Calgary itself, people not impacted by the flood, made their way to the swamped neighbourhoods and helped carrying sodden drywall, furniture, whatever, out onto lawns and curbsides.

Grade 12 students, exempted from writing final exams, turned up on doorsteps, offering their willing help. By the afternoon, they were muddy and tired, but they kept going.

Little ones set up lemon aid stands.

Food trucks organized themselves and, if they themselves were not swamped in water, drove to where volunteers were working and handed out much-needed food and drinks.

Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society heard the cry from First Nations People of the Siksika Nation about water surrounding stranded dogs and they rescued them as well as many other creatures, including the expected cats and dogs. Then came the fawns, horses, a turkey, chickens, baby hare, pigs.

Volunteers helped in so many ways, for so many hours, so many days.

Perhaps one of the most touching donations came from Cambodian orphans, children housed in the Place of Rescue orphanage. They sent $900, half of the money given to them when the wife of Cambodia's prime minister gave them $12 each during a visit to the orphanage.

Some of these children had been brought to Calgary and performed dances at various centres. So they knew friends they had made in Calgary were in trouble.

On it goes.

So much destruction in towns, hamlets . . . Canmore, Medicine Hat, farmland. High River is now in a state of emergency with the province responsible for emergency operations and other programs and services.

LIVELIHOODS GONE

Livelihoods are gone. Homes too. The future and hope both seem so tenuous, maybe even gone. What it does to one's psyche is unimaginable. Calls to the Distress Line in Calgary are up 50 per cent.

We are Albertans. We care. We can help. Bishop Fred Henry and the Diocese of Calgary are accepting financial donations to assist the flood victims.

Send a cheque or money order payable to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, earmarked Calgary Flood Relief fund, to the Pastoral Centre, 120-17th Ave SW, Calgary T2S 2T2. Donations can also be made online through the diocesan website at www.calgarydiocese.ca.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)