Nenshi, Hancock reflect on major natural disaster
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said a few people asked him why we should commemorate a horrible event such as the first anniversary of the devastating June 2013 flood?
"We celebrate (the flood) in order to celebrate who we are. We celebrate our resiliency," Nenshi said to the crowd that attended the June 20 ceremony at Calgary City Hall— a location that was one of many affected by the disaster of a year ago.
Current Alberta Premier Dave Hancock echoed those sentiments.
"For all of us today, it's not just remembering the flood," he says. " It is about recognizing courage and resilience in the face of catastrophe.
"Albertans came together. Calgarians came together."
The tone and look of the ceremony certainly aligned with the theme of resiliency and community.
Surrounding the ceremony stage was many muddy rubber work boots, which symbolized the will of Calgarians to not let this difficult event break them, but instead move forward and work together to rebuild Calgary into an even stronger city.
While rubber boots certainly serve as a good symbol of Calgary's community spirit after the flood, Nenshi prefers to think of the image of helping hands.
"I want to think of all those hands that came together to make a difference in our community," Nenshi says. " The hands of those public servants who go to work every day, keep us safe and make our communities just a little bit better.
Nenshi honoured the public servants that work for The City of Calgary by awarding every single City of Calgary employee with the Biggest Employee Award.
While this ceremony served as an opportunity to celebrate community spirit, it also served as an occasion to recognize individuals for outstanding leadership during this crisis that saw over 1,200 homes severely damaged.
Nenshi thanked former Alberta Premier Alison Redford for her constant support during the ordeal. Hancock thanked Nenshi and Redford.
"Thank you Mayor Nenshi, who stood tall during the floods. Side-by-side with Alison Redford. Two symbols of leadership during a very difficult time, and communities need their leaders to step forward during difficult times. They did so in a stellar fashion."
Through the efforts of leaders and citizens working together, Calgary was able to put forth some remarkable recovery efforts, which included:
• On June 22nd, two days since the flood began, the LRT station was powered back up.
• In one-and-a-half days flood damaged areas of Macleod trail were rebuilt.
• Within one week, crews repaired 100m of wrecked LRT tracks and reopened the south LRT line.
• Eighty per cent of Calgary's road network was restored in a week.
• Calgary was able to host the 101st Stampede come "hell or high water" two weeks after the start of the flood.
• By the end of July City of Calgary crews completed over 18,000 property inspections.
• Thirty parks have been reopened since the flood.
• Seventy-five kilometres of damaged pathways.
• Resurfacing has taken place in over 10 playgrounds.
• Twenty-six tonnes of debris has been cleared from the Elbow River, and 24 tonnes have been cleared from the Bow River.
These incredible feats, along with the pure carnage of the flood itself, have certainly created enduring images and ideas in the minds of many Calgarians that were directly or indirectly affected by this event.
For Nenshi, one quote stands out in particular.
"A couple weeks after the flood, I was walking in Bowness. I was walking down Bow Crescent to the second or third house after John Hextall Park. I met the family who lived there and walked through their house. They were back in, but there was nothing else in their house. I'm pretty sure they were sleeping in hammocks. It was like indoor camping.
"And they had found a piece of plywood in their basement, and they scrawled a message on it, and they nailed it to the tree out front. And it said: 'We lost some stuff. We gained a community.'"
- By Quinton Amundson