This week, Albertans experienced a flood of massive proportions, requiring more than 110,000 people to leave their homes and twice as many to spring into action for the good of their neighbours. Although the extent of the damage is not yet known, we do know that we are a community with heart and soul and we will pull together and rebuild. That is for sure.
As I watched the horrifying events of the last 72 hours with disbelief, I wondered how it would feel to watch a torrent of mud, logs and industrial size metal garbage bins float towards my home. I’ve walked on those normally dry creek beds and watched my kids throw rocks into the Bow River more times than I can count. I’ve driven on the TransCanada highway and never seen a line of semi-trailers parked on a highway island caused by massive mudslides. This was not my Calgary. And, that’s when it came to me, these images, as powerful as they may be, will not be how I define my community throughout this flood.
Instead, I will remember how inspired and encouraged I was by the unconditional commitments of so many.
- My colleague, who drove 600 km to pick up comfort kits for people who were displaced and staying in the evacuation centres – made on a moment’s notice by our TELUS Community Ambassadors.
- The pulling together of various TELUS teams, many of whom I’ve never met before, to do their personal and significantly important piece to ensure help got quickly to where it was needed.
- The selfless efforts of those TELUS team members who worked for 24 hours straight – sandbagging, setting up rain tubes and driving critical equipment and care goods to neighborhoods impacted by the flood.
- Team members who fed their children crackers and cheese while they continuously reported back on activities to the TELUS Emergency Management Operations Centre (EMOC) to ensure our response was effectively coordinated.
- Technicians in our central offices who have spent the past 72 hours watching water levels rise perilously high as they frantically squeegeed water towards the drains.
- Trucks driving through water so deep that when they opened their doors water came out; and a combine that was used to rescue stranded people in the town of High River.
On Saturday, I was with a team of TELUS volunteers delivering care items to the hastily relocated Calgary Drop-In Centre – their downtown location was evacuated at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. More than 1,200 homeless men and women were stuck nearly a block away from the raging river. They were relocated to an overflow site further away from the affected area and the centre’s staff had to leave everything behind – blankets cots, food. Can you imagine?
Perhaps that’s why an army of volunteers were inside what used to be a hotel pool, sorting clothing, toiletries and donations like their lives depended on it – because someone’s life did depend on it.
Perhaps that’s why TELUS team members worked all day and all night to make sure our community could connect to their loved ones. Why they didn’t sleep and did their very best to make sure critical equipment stayed dry. Because when you do something for others it gives you a sense of purpose and social responsibility and allows you to see how the work of one person can have a powerful impact on the lives of many.
These will be my memories as time goes on and we begin the recovery process.
I wanted to reach out to you, for whatever its worth, to say that I hope your families are safe and to reassure you that the TELUS team is here to help rebuild our Calgary.
Join us and text REDCROSS to 30333 from your personal mobile device to donate $5 to the Canadian Red Cross’ Alberta flood relief efforts.
Senior Community Investment Manager