There weeks ago the Alberta floods made headlines. And like most Albertans, I've heard the news and I've seen the pictures of the devastation in Calgary and surrounding area.
Today, after a volunteer stint in High River, I realized that the pictures don't come even close to doing justice to what's really happening there.
The thing I noticed first (which is impossible to ascertain from the news) is the smell. Pardon my language, but the town literally smells like shit. Because it's literally, in some areas, still covered in raw sewage.
We set up shop in one of the hardest hit areas of the city: a community called Sunrise. Just yesterday, the residents in this area have been given the OK to go home. No. Not to live in their homes. To completely gut their homes.
Because their homes have been under water for three weeks, nothing is salvageable.
I had a knot in my throat the entire time. I could barely eat. It was a strange, uneasy feeling.
On a happy note, the residents and volunteers were grateful for our presence. Most of them had been eating nothing but fast food for weeks and they were grateful for a home cooked meal.
The virtual gold metal award goes to Darlene & Mary, two of my past students who got motivated, organized and involved.
Together, they spent over 16-hours cooking up a storm, 2 hours navigating through the mess to find out where help was needed most and dispensing warm greetings and comfort to the devastated home owners and the hungry volunteers. They would never mention this but I will: Everything was done out of pocket. Their pocket.
Thank you for allowing me to help. There is no where else I would rater have been. Especially that damn Stampede.
There is so much work to be done. I suggest you get out there.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art making process can be a vehicle for empowerment.
I am living proof.