I had last week’s blog post ready to go, but things got a bit complicated. Our city flooded. Actually, most of the southern half of our province did. The numbers are just coming in, but I’ve heard figures of up to $3 billion dollars in damage and $2 billion in economic impact.
Thankfully, my family’s home is fine, but so many others are not. After a day spent dealing with the sorting, cleaning, insurance, demolition and rebuilding efforts in one condo building in Sunnyside here are my observations.
The initial relief at being allowed back into homes in the evacuation zones is quickly replaced with horror and shock at the damage. It is hard to know where to even begin, or to make decisions about what to keep and what to save. Most people are not experts at gutting interiors or understanding the health issues with missing pools of flood water. Figuring out where to live while all this plays out is also a problem. The vacancy rate in this city is already low at 1.2 per cent. I imagine that’s probably close to zero now. The priority has to be safely cleaning out and demolishing damaged possessions and building material so things can dry up and the next phase of planning can begin. Figuring out how to pay for it is going to be tough. Dealing with the survivor guilt isn’t easy either.
More than anything, I think as a city we need to pace ourselves. Calgary is not a place where people are always comfortable with the idea of slowing down. Taking a rest. However, this disaster will take a long time to clean up. To make good decisions we need to help people find places to live where they can re-establish the day-to-day rhythm of their lives. Then, we need to rest a bit. And, we need to give ourselves and one another permission to do that, too.