Most of you may know that I live in Calgary, Alberta. Most of you may also know about the state of emergency that our city has been in for almost a week now after the worst natural disaster in Calgary’s history when 100’s of thousands of people lost their homes to flash flooding.
In the past week, the emotions have been running wild. People went from shock and disbelief to grieving and sorrow… but one thing this city did not feel…. hopeless. You see, we’re a big city but with that small town feeling. The biggest little country town in the West some might call it – and we all have one thing in common. We help each other in time of need. We have an amazing mayor who has stood tall and led us all through this disaster with our heads held high and our spirits uplifted.
These past few days, Calgary has been in full pitch-in and clean-up mode. Most of the city is not at work this week. We are out helping our friends and neighbours in need. Everything has ground to a halt while we help our fellow Calgarians in any way we can. Restaurants are serving free food, daycares offering free childcare if needed, stores offering free shoes and undergarments… the list goes on and on.
There are the couponers who are donating entire stockpiles full of hygiene items, canned goods, laundry soap, cleaning products and so much more. There are the families bringing truckloads of blankets, water and clothing to the emergency shelters for the evacuees. There are the kids collecting bottles and hosting lemonade stands to raise money to donate for other kids who have nothing at all left. Don’t forget all the men and women feverishly making meals and coffee to feed those in need whether they’re displaced homeowners or those helping them.
Then there are the front line workers. The policemen, firemen, construction workers, the teachers, doctors, engineers, housewives, hockey players and oil company CEO’s all side by side working with one common goal. Just to help complete strangers who need a hand. They seem to show up randomly and unannounced in the devastated neighbourhoods and move from house to house down the street until everyone is completely covered in mud and completely exhausted from clearing out the debris and damaged furniture, carpets and household goods. Never being asked, never needing to be.
Calgarians may have felt a lot of emotions this past week. But one of them is definitely not hopeless. There was no time for feelings of despair for as soon as the waters receeded – the work began and this city came together in a way that I’ve never seen before. To say it’s amazing and awe-inspiring is an understatement. Calgarians didn’t have to be asked – they just did. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.
This my friends, is what community spirit looks and feels like. This is what “getting back to basics” is all about and what prompted the creation of this very website.
What a wonderful life lesson this has turned out to be.