After The Flood

As we bused back north up Highway 2, the military vehicles streamed south. I was with some ATB Financial colleagues who were finishing up the first leg of a province-wide tour to mark the 75th anniversary of the financial institution born in a disaster of too little water. Now, a disaster of too much. 

Heading to Calgary
The camouflaged vehicles presented both a welcome and an eerie prospect. Yes, the uniformed men and women were bringing their engineering skill and sandbagging brawn, but the movement of those same vehicles whispered that this was, maybe, a state of nature (and not of the tourism variety) they were heading toward. 

Back moving through Edmonton on that Friday afternoon, a scheduled drink at Latitude 53 just ahead of me, the scenes through the bus window were jarring. Not because they were hard to see. They weren't. They were the easy images of friends talking on the steps of the Hotel Macdonald. And of a businessman running to get a waiting cab. And of green lights and red lights and traffic and pedestrians and blue sky. Just normal stuff.

And only two hours back down the road lives lost and livelihoods wasted. I asked some questions into that rum and coke.

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"We will be hosting the greatest show on Earth come hell or high water," Calgary Stampede president
Elbow got the first word
and board chairman Bob Thompson said, the flooded, muddied Stampede grounds behind him.

The "hell or high water" comment stuck. In Calgary, disasters are branded. 

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Nenshi does not have the sense of a land developer, but he is developing the sense of a land.

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"Okay, tell me the truth now," my first TV boss, Tim Spelliscy, asked my over beers, pretzels, and devilled eggs at MKT on Thursday. "With all the flood action happening, do you miss being in a newsroom in the middle of it?"

I paused for a couple of seconds before answering: "No, not really. I don't miss having to help do live hits and get stuff for the national and all the affiliates and the web and newsnet and then just having to fall back on the news being what you can see and record." 

I told Speller I did miss sitting around and talking about the news with newspeople, but not the adrenaline factory. I don't miss it yet.

Later, the question got me thinking from a slightly different angle. Is a newsroom really in the middle of it? Here there is another question and that has to do with the status of the observer and recorder, but we kinda need Rousseau as a guide here. 

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After work on Friday, we talked about the RCMP's decision in High River to go into evacuated homes and seize improperly stored guns. A provocation? An illegal act? Good policing? Or a whisper that the state of nature is closer than people think?

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Me and Amos Garrett in Black Diamond

"And what's your name?" the clerk asked the man holding two of those papery breathing masks in his hands at her till.

The scene was the Rona store in Black Diamond today. I was walking in on a quick mission to buy a trouble light to illuminate a basement cleanup a few blocks away.

The man paused for a couple of seconds before answering: "Amos."

I turned my head. The clerk entered A-m-o-s on her keyboard as she asked, "And what's your last name?"

"Garrett," he said. 

The guitar legend, who I usually see from about a  kilometre up the Edmonton Folk Music Festival hill, was standing there in front of me, wearing a look of deep concern. He thinks the main floor of his home in High River is gone. He will need a crew of helpers.

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ATB cleanup gang in action
Shelagh and I drove to Calgary Friday night and then to Black Diamond this morning to join others from ATB in erasing the slurry signature scrawled by the angry Sheep River across the property and lives of Shalili and Rob. Shalili works at ATB in Calgary and escaped with her life and her dogs when the water came. 

Today, her workmates came with wheelbarrows, shovels, gloves, mops, bleach and it was good to be there in the middle of things.


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The two of us





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