12 Avenue SE – June 22 2013

rob meurin communica flood

~ Rob Meurin

Good Neighbours and the Flood – by Dymphny Dronyk

I live at the foot of Nose Hill, so when flooding hits our city, our house stays dry. During the epic flood of 2013 our home was not directly affected by water – but as with most people in southern Alberta that year – we sure felt the flood.
I work across from the Stampede grounds, and on June 20th, 2013, our office sat like a squat brick lily pad in the middle of a murky lake. My former colleague, Rob Meurin, took this picture on Saturday morning when we were strategizing how to get the server out of the office so that we could continue to work. They waded in with backpacks and rescued the most important equipment. We spent the next 257 days working offsite, in a challenging and creative arrangement of kitchen tables and home offices, and eventually, a temporary office on the opposite end of downtown.

Many of our workmates, our friends and family members, and our clients had taken a direct hit. People lost their homes and all their belongings. For some the event eroded relationships already tenuous, and marriages collapsed, and friendships ended. For most of us, however, the intensity of the event, the hardship and the heartbreak, and the tenacity and generosity with which the majority of friends and neighbours responded, reminded us what really matters in life: kindness, resilience, and community. Having a heck of a good sense of humour also helps.

At the time I was a relative newcomer to Calgary, and unsure of how I felt about the place. The city seemed a little aloof. I missed the small-town friendliness of the North – especially my loyal and loving neighbours. For all of its tragedy, and the ensuing hassle and frustration during the long months of clean up and reconstruction, the Flood brought out something very genuine and special between people. It was a comfort to connect with neighbours and strangers – to know that community is precious, and worth protecting – and that it takes grace and hard work to nurture it.

Kris Demeanor and I immediately realized that we had to extend the deadline for submissions to The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual. It was beautiful and powerful to witness how the artists of the city absorbed the impact of the Flood, and created poignant art in a collective healing experience.

This year we are completing our task of sharing that work with our readers here at Blue Skies – both the pieces published in the anthology, as well as the lovely pieces that we accepted for our online version. Together, our artists have created a legacy. Thank you for being such good neighbours!

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