Southern Alberta/South East BC Flood of 2013

23 06 2013

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Whatever contraptions, potions, technology, or sorcery we employ for the universal good, it seems we are universally fucked when we realize our endeavors  are all for naught and a failed testament to the unwavering  power of Nature.  Bear witness to the catastrophic flooding in Southwestern Alberta and Southeastern British Columbia in June of 2013.

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The areas that were hit the hardest initially never saw it coming so fast, and so furious. Not a single long-time resident of any community affected said that they’ve ever seen anything even remotely similar to this. It truly is catastrophic and unprecedented since we began inhabiting these parts.

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I live in Calgary, a city of over a million that has been severely impacted by this historic disaster.  Approximately 100 thousand people have been evacuated. I have a number of people I care about who are directly impacted. I count my lucky stars that I’m not in their shoes. I’ve lived through the 2005 flood and the 1987 tornado in Edmonton.  Both natural disasters and both incredibly horrifying. I’ve been stranded on a mountain top by wind and hail. I’ve been caught out in severely cold weather and developed hypothermia. I’ve suffered 2nd degree sunburns and associated sun stroke.  I once foolishly crossed a swollen Chehalis River to access fishing riverfront, almost being swept away, only to later discover that a bridge crossing was located one kilometer upstream. I respect Nature in my old age, as wisdom has finally paid a visit.

This flood has been very personal to me, as the majority of communities affected are what I call home. I am deeply moved by the incredible devastation caused by the perfect storm of previously saturated soils, frozen soils at higher elevations, spring run-off, geography, and a stalled low pressure system that dumped up to 200mm of rain across the foothills to the West.

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Once again, I stand in awe of the power of Nature.

Our emergency warning systems, engineered controls such as dams and other water diversions, and para-militarily enforced rules are a trifle compared to Ma Nature’s will. Which has been demonstrated to be both cyclical and chaotically random.  Photographic comparisons of this flood and another that hit town in 1932 are remarkably similar. Image

The City of Medicine Hat is currently preparing for the worst, as the full force of both the Bow River and the Oldman River form into the South Saskatchewan River and chug through Alberta’s “Gas City”.

Highways and roads have been washed out, bridges have been destroyed, homes have been swept away, others have been flooded almost to their roofs, and so far four people have been confirmed dead.

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The devastation is so widespread that damages may be in the billions of dollars.

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But the Stampede will go on. We will clean up and rebuild. What other option is there?

Stay strong people. Together we’ll get through this.

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