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Alberta Flood: Wet books, story of energy

Alberta Flood: Wet books, story of energy

Posted on: June 26, 2013
Author: Jennifer Kohle

Michael Ulrich is a communications senior manager with ATB Financial Business & Agriculture. In this account of the flood cleanup in the Calgary neighbourhood of Elbow Park, he paints a vivid picture of the unnatural job of removing treasured and prized personal possessions from homes. But it is also an optimistic account. Optimistic because of the energy of Calgarians.

ATBer Michael Ulrich poses with family as he helps clean out their flooded home

In the air from dawn until dusk and right through the night is the new soundtrack of life for residents of Elbow Park: the hum of generators.

I have family who live in this beautiful Calgary neighbourhood that runs along the Elbow River. It was devastated by flooding. Now, residents are working to empty the water from their homes and begin the drying-out process.

Residents here have lost so much. But, even as the generators power the cleanup effort, there is a unique energy in the air.

It's the result of the outpouring of support of Calgarians for their neighbours. We've learned again that neighbours aren't just the people who live next door.

Across this city, people are just showing up to do what they can. Some come with their gloves and rubber boots on. Others ride by on bikes, offering sandwiches and water. Businesses with the expertise to really help the cleanup are offering their services for free to those who need it.

For most homeowners in Elbow Park, Monday and Tuesday were spent hauling out everything that got wet. Picture this: every driveway, yard and curbside is piled high with wet, muddy personal belongings. There are mountains of debris. On every street are rows of garbage containers ready to be taken away. Garbage trucks are making the rounds, accessing the main streets to load up whatever people have hauled out.

For many, having it gone is part of the healing process, I think.

In the pile of destroyed personal items from my family are waterlogged books. My uncle owned a bookstore until recently and although he was able to save a lot of what was on higher ground, the mountain of literature in his driveway tells the story of the damage done and done so quickly.

He admits it's hard to see the books so unnaturally wet. But he also know that what got wet is just stuff. And like so many others he calculates the even deeper destruction done to others in southern Alberta.

It's been an incredible and surreal week in Elbow Park. And without a doubt the response is exactly what makes this city so great.

Even now, even without electricity and hot water, even with wet books and the sound of the generators reminding us all of the work ahead, there is another sentiment that rings true for many here.

Sunny days are here again.

I'm just one of many ATB associates trying to pitch in wherever we can.

- Michael

More stories from the floods:

Dear Jon
Tears and drywall
Primed for grime
Fully invested
Extra Hands
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