Calgary's Flood - A Home Care Perspective

The City of Calgary is almost back on its cowboy-boot-adorned feet following a June flood that sent the city into a two-week state of emergency.

Amidst the devastation, some Calgarians have managed to find glimmers of hope and a heightened sense of community.

Approximately 100,000 Calgarians and Southern Albertans were evacuated due to the severe flooding of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Many people remain displaced or continue with significant flood clean-up and repair.

Britney Didier-Shaw, Regional Leader of Classic LifeCare Alberta, says her Calgary team anxiously watched the rising rivers on the midnight news on June 20, wondering about the safety of their elderly clients scattered throughout the city.

Classic LifeCare has been providing care for clients in Alberta and BC for nearly 40 years. The company provides live-in care, complex care, housekeeping and companionship for clients ranging from pediatric to geriatric.

“Although our office shut down due to a power outage, we pulled together from our own homes and phoned every client the morning the fear was unleashed, questioning if they were safe, dry and still able to remain in their homes,” says Didier-Shaw.

Following the initial flooding, the count for the neighborhoods under mandatory evacuation grew quickly and Classic staff grew worried for those who may be out of home, whether it be a client or a caregiver and family.

Didier-Shaw says many of Classic’s health care workers have since shared incredible stories from the flood.

Some health care workers instinctively filled bathtubs for water reserve and many remained with their clients instead of going home. Classic delivered candles and water where needed, charged cell phones in cars, and offered help for those stranded due to road closures.

One long-standing client, known to his health care workers as ‘Lolo’, a Filipino word for Grandfather, lives on the 18th floor of his building. His was one of many buildings without power and water for a period of time during the flood.

An emergency generator was eventually brought in to power one elevator, but prior to that, health care worker, Miriam, made a panicked trip for groceries by braving all 18 floors in a dark stairwell, flashlight in hand. She returned to Lolo with groceries after ascending all 18 floors.

Lolo’s other caregiver, Imelda, described the creative meal preparation she used by burning a tea light under the pot of soup for about 45 minutes with the hope it would be hot enough to enjoy. After a few failed attempts, Imelda laughed and said she wondered if a salad was maybe a better idea.

Lolo’s health care workers describe those few days as "old fashioned" and managed to fill their time with more walks than usual and some piano playing by Lolo. The flood managed to provide some good experiences and memories.

In other areas of the city, employees of Classic LifeCare provided donations of cash, pre-made sandwiches, snacks and blankets to those in need. Classic LifeCare was added to http://www.yychelps.ca/, a virtual meeting place to organize volunteers, supplies and news about the flood and flood recovery.

Calgary city officials have estimated the flood damages at more than $250 million. Amazingly, the annual Calgary Stampede, a 10-day outdoor show from July 5-14, was pulled together in the wake of the flood, a feat many Calgarians praised as a means to return spirit and hope to the ravaged city.

Didier-Shaw says the clean-up is far from over but the feeling in the city is one of optimism and hope.

To track the progress of flood clean-up or to donate to victims, visit http://www.yychelps.ca/.