MRU helps those affected by the largest natural disaster in Alberta’s history
It would have been impossible to miss the great flood that swept through southern Alberta earlier this summer. With a state of emergency declared in Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer to name only a couple affected areas – combined with the fact that High River may not recover at all – the flood was easily the greatest natural disaster to hit Alberta.
The resiliency which Albertans responded could only be described as remarkable. To the shock of many, even the 101st Stampede went ahead despite the grounds being underwater less than two weeks before the start date. Communities rallied to help friends and neighbours, and volunteers showed up by the thousands to help rebuild.
Lisa Taylor, a fourth year Journalism student at Mount Royal, was in High River when the flood hit. She was there on an internship with Routes Media Inc., and was on assignment when she first noticed what was happening.
“My boss asked me to go out and take some photos of the flood, which I thought nothing of because the west side of town usually floods about every five years, so I was not prepared for the magnitude of the event,” Taylor explained. “Walking down that road felt like I was in an apocalypse — where everyone is trying to leave town but it’s impossible because of all the traffic.
“I got chased by the water all the way home and had to trudge through a field back to my house because it was the only dry land I could find.”
Despite watching the flood nearly sweep away another man’s life, Taylor kept high spirits and spent the summer in High River helping with the cleanup. As excited as she was help to rebuild, she is ready to come back to learn.
“I can’t help feeling that my summer was cut short because of the flood but I’m happy that things are beginning to get a little more back to normal than before,” she said. “I’m excited to return to school so that I can have a little more routine and normality back in my life.”
Mount Royal University, though not hit by the flood, was not inactive. It spent the summer as a Disaster Recovery Registration Centre. From post-flood up until Aug. 17, the Calgary Emergency Response Agency had MRU join the team and help assist in recovery.
Jane O’Connor, the director of the Emergency Operations Centre, talked about what Mount Royal did to help during that time.
“Mount Royal was asked by CEMA to provide accommodations and meals to residents who had been evacuated from their homes (approximately 230 evacuees at the peak) many of whom were with us for an extended period of time,” said O’Connor.
“In addition to the evacuees, Mount Royal housed approximately 50 Red Cross workers from across the province and country who came to Calgary to assist evacuees at various locations in the City.”
In addition to that, a base was set up in the west residence to give clothing, hygiene items, snacks and information to those who were evacuated during the flood. On top of all that, MRU gave assistance to the flooded Bow Valley College by giving them office and meeting facilities, as well as IT support.
As of right now, most students can prepare for back to school as if this were any other school year. However, with so many still displaced across the provinces and reminders of the flood in the sights and conversations around the city, it will take a long time before things truly get back to normal around these parts.