It is more than a week ago that schools were cancelled because of flooding in Calgary. Calgary would be in a state of emergency for many more days to come.
It is one of those days when you will never forget where you were and what you were doing. I was staying at my friend’s house and then off to our Bishop Carroll graduation ceremonies with my grade 12 students .We were celebrating their accomplishments and yet mindful of the devastation all around us, but not completely aware of just how Albertans would be impacted.
I knew that Calgarians would make a difference, but little did I know how amazing the role modelling would be for our students. Our students would have definitely risen to the challenge fundraising amongst other things, but it was the end of the school year. That will come in September, as I know our city will still need help then. Within the first day I received a tweet from the YMCA that one of our students was already helping … no surprise.
During the next week I would begin to see how much the city was impacted. I felt powerless in the beginning not knowing how I could help.
I recognized that I could give money to the Red Cross , that was easy. I could register with #yychelps, but not sure if I could do the heavy work.
Then came an email from our chief superintendant, Gary Strother, asking for volunteers to help with the cleanup efforts. I don’t usually look at my e-mail after school year ends, but this year I am more connected to my computer than ever before ,so I took it as a sign that I needed to act.
For two days I was up at 4 a.m. and to work by 5:15 because of the coordinating efforts of one of the organizers Ralph Strother along with some amazing people from Whissell Construction .
Being in the middle of a neighbourhood at East Elbow Park made everything real. I just kept imagining if this was my home and my family, how I would feel and how appreciative of the help I would be. I know the homeowners did, by the signs and the overwhelming thank you’s and gratitude that was displayed.
As Ralph Strother says, ”it was a huge step forward from unfathomable loss to rebuilding towards recovery… everyone worked shoulder to shoulder responding with no request too small and or seemingly too big dismantling garages, structures and even roofs, carefully, skillfully and even moving all the debris.”
Whissell construction donated dump trucks, front-end loaders, skidsters, trucks, barricades tools and amazing people who worked tirelessly to coordinate our efforts. It was amazing to see all the work being done around me. I am grateful for the small part that I would play to help out.
I have to admit it was hard work. It was back breaking work that some people do everyday (obviously something I am not cut out for on a daily basis) kudos to them, but for now they were adding to their week by volunteering. It made me very happy to be a part of it.
Ways I watched people help:
- Driving the bus to get volunteers in and out of communities
- Baking food for families and volunteers
- First Aid responders
- Organizing small clean up jobs for younger people
- Lemonade stands
- Raking, shoveling, hauling, demolishing, lifting, cleaning
The list goes on…
There are so many ways people can contribute . Many people cannot contribute physically, but it is just as valuable to contribute in any way you can … JUST CONTRIBUTE. We need to be grateful for what we have and what we can do, not to feel guilty for what we can’t do. All that we do matters and for today I am so grateful to live in a city of helpers. I do not have to look for them. They are everywhere.
Click here :
and then click on the pictures to move to the next picture in the haiku deck:
Thanks to all my fellow @CCSD_edu colleagues especially Andrew who helped out and a special thanks to Gary and Ralph for making this happen.
Here are some resources from Alberta Health Services that you may wish to check out: Flood updates and resources…
Alberta Government’s pamphlet Support for Albertan’s Affected by Flood: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-ahs-support.pdf
Dr. Michael Trew’s Blog (Alberta’s Chief Mental Health Officer): http://blogs.albertahealthservices.ca/floodcope/
- Support for Albertans Affected by Flood
- Helping Your Child or Teen Prepare Emotionally For Disasters or Emergencies
- Helping Your Child or Teen Respond to a Disaster or Emergency
- Helping Children and Teens Recover from a Disaster or Traumatic Events
- Preparing Emotionally for Disasters or Emergencies
- Responding to a Disaster or Emergency
- Recovery after a Disaster or Emergency
- Additional resources –www.albertahealthservices.ca/mentalhealth.asp