Not far from widespread flooding in Calgary, High River and elsewhere in southern Alberta, many displaced people have friends and relatives living in the Stettler region.
“My uncle and aunt in High River had to be evacuated from their home in a front-end loader,” said Devon McMann of Stettler.
With his uncle more than 85 years old and his aunt a few years younger, the emotional upheaval was tense as emergency personnel quickly evacuated homes.
“I could imagine myself getting picked up in an front-end loader, let alone my uncle and aunt,” McMann said.
“He said they had only a few minutes to get out.”
As the family historian, his uncle has an extensive collection of history, McMann said.
“We’re not sure if the family history was lost or not.”
Fortunately, the elderly couple was taken in by nearby relatives.
McMann’s niece from Montreal was also stranded in Calgary when she arrived to perform at the Sledfest music event, which was cancelled.
“She told us that the view from her hotel room, it was just water everywhere,” McMann said.
“It was crazy, we had so much connection to the flood.”
Gayle Thoun had travelled to Calgary for a medical appointment that was cancelled when her doctor from flood-ridden Canmore was also stranded.
“It was just a minor inconvenience for me, but not for so many other people,” Thoun said. “So many people lost everything.
“It’s one of those things that you see in the movies or on television, and you think it will never happen to you. It did — and we will have more of these situations.”
One couple that experienced the flood first-hand in Calgary visited Stettler this past weekend.
“It brought the whole city together,” said Virgil Epp, who with his wife Joy were in Stettler to visit their son Brad, associate pastor of Stettler Alliance Church.
“We were safe on high ground in northwest Calgary, but we have lots of friends and family directly affected,” Joy said.
Residents responded quickly to help and support those displaced, she said.
“You can see that in the high level of volunteering. People didn’t wait to have to be told what to do or get organized. They just put on gloves and boots and they helped wherever it was needed.”
They even saw some people put a barbecue in the back of a pickup truck and go to areas to serve burgers and hotdogs to volunteers and residents.
Like many businesses did, Joy Epp’s employer raised $1,200 to buy groceries and cleaning supplies.
One large building supply store also packed truckloads of supplies and stopped around the town to allow people to help themselves to whatever they needed to clean up, Virgil Epp said.