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July 5, 2013
Human Kindness in the Wake of Devastation: Calgary Slowly Recovers

“The city of Calgary has, once again, proven to be a remarkable place to live,” says Carol STONE Gray’65. “And volunteers were a big part of saving the homes and psyches of thousands of residents.”

Carol Gray is one of at least 50 Calgary-area Branksome alumnae who are all in our thoughts as they recover from the recent flooding in the province of Alberta.

“In some cases basements and some main floors have filled with muddy river water,” she reports. Houses are being demolished if the flooding has caused structural instability. “Many people experienced a shattering loss of home equity and possessions but have been uplifted by the kindness of strangers.”
 
Volunteers, she adds, have “hauled out sodden, muddy goods and picked through trash.” They’ve helped to retrieve and clean valuables, as well as redirect paint and toxic chemicals to disposal sites.
 
“Who would have known that two sets of sodden sheets weigh the same as a milk crate containing 16 bottles of wine?” she wonders. “But much of it is mystery wine now, because the labels are gone!”
 
As city garbage trucks continue to clear the piles of rubble from the street on a daily basis in the impacted river valleys, “we’re seeing bottled water stands, BBQ lunches, even little kids with cookies, and people with backpacks full of sterilizing chemicals provided free by an oil company for spraying surfaces once they are clean,” she adds. “It has been amazing. But, because of the slow retreat of the flood waters in High River, which delayed re-entry, the resulting toxicity of the mould in many homes means they are likely to be condemned and demolished.”
 
The Calgary Zoo has been devastated, too, and a couple of our hippos almost took a quick trip down the Bow River to Medicine Hat, she says. “Reconstruction will take years and some of our Zoo inhabitants will have to be relocated for a while. Over 200 Zoo employees have just been laid off.”
 
Carol adds that damage to Kananaskis Country, “our playground,” is devastating. “I hike there weekly in the summer, but the highway and several bridges have been washed out. Trails are unstable or destroyed. Rivers have been re-routed. At least the bike paths in the city are almost back to normal.”
 
Resilient and appreciative, she remarks, “Calgarians are aware, and we are grateful, that the rest of the country is concerned and thinking about us.”

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