Newspaper Name: Calgary Herald
Province: Alberta
Town(s) Served: Calgary
Published: 06/25/2014
View PDF

Canadian Hero: The everyday volunteer during the great flood of 2013
On June 20, 2013, the flood of the century hit southern Alberta, leading to five deaths, more than $5 billion in damage and the evacuation of more than 100,000 people. The flood became the costliest disaster in Canadian history, in terms of insurable damages. But rising above the water, muck and mud, was the spirit of the people of the province. Tens of thousands of people donned rubber boots, grabbed shovels and brooms, and helped neighbours, friends and strangers dig out and clean up. Their impact on helping a disaster-struck area recover was profound. The willingness and number of people who wanted to help was overwhelming; at one point, the City of Calgary put out a call for volunteers to meet at McMahon Stadium. Expecting a few hundred people to show up, the City instead got several thousand. As Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said after the flood: “The most enduring image of the flood . . . is that of the ordinary citizen – covered head to toe with mud and mosquito bites, cut and scraped and bruised – working hard to save the home of someone she doesn’t even know.” It is these everyday people who became unforgettable volunteers – the true heroes of the great Alberta flood of 2013. This was a story that impacted every member of the community; it was a defining moment in the history of Calgary and southern Alberta; and, its impact continues today, with the post-flood spirit continuing to shine brightly and demonstrate how one community not only survived, but thrived, after a natural disaster.