Damage in downtown core under assessment
Though she lives just outside the downtown core of Calgary, Anna Dunne-Hussey can see evidence of the damage caused by floodwaters that forced tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.
“There’s a park in my area, and I can look down and see the river, see all the damage on high ground,” said Dunne-Hussey, who is from Brigus but has lived in Alberta’s largest city for the last six years.
“It doesn’t compare to anything, and for people who have lived here all their life, I don’t think they’ve seen anything like this. It’s really extreme.”
Approximately 75,000 residents left their homes Thursday night because of water pouring out of the Elbow and Bow rivers, with 65,000 of those people able to return home by Sunday.
While not affected directly by the flooding, Dunne-Hussey has friends who still do not know as of Sunday what they will discover when they return home.
“I have lots of friends who still don’t know what their homes look like who are (from) the evacuated zones.”
The full extent of the damage to homes and businesses remained unclear as of Sunday, though Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said the recovery will take “weeks and months.”
The provincial government reported that 27 municipalities were in a state of emergency on Sunday. Three bodies have been recovered and a fourth person was missing as of late Sunday afternoon.
Dunne-Hussey was not in Calgary when the flooding started. Alongside her husband Jason Hussey, a native of Paradise, Dunne-Hussey was in the middle of entertaining her parents visiting from Brigus.
“They arrived here on Tuesday, so we headed down towards Montana to a park down there.”
They encountered a bad storm and saw some flooded roads, but it was not until the group returned to Calgary on Friday that they became aware of the full extent of what happened while they were away.
“It was pretty eerie driving back into the city and just seeing all the damage,” said Dunne-Hussey. “It’s out of this world.”
Bridges she would typically take to get home were closed, so it took an extra hour of driving to get there.
“We knew our house was not in the evacuation area, but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be just to get here.”
Her employer, the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, is located just outside of the flood zone, but with so many road closures resulting from the floods, Dunne-Hussey is uncertain how she will get to work. That concern will be shared by many others in the city.
“It’s hard to know, because the area of the downtown core, hundreds of thousands of people work there. ... Whether you’re living down there or not, it’s going to affect the whole city.”
Meanwhile, her parents Ivan and Joan Dunne are due to stay in the area for another two weeks.
“They’ve come at the worst time, but they’re typical Newfoundlanders and they’re taking it all in stride,” said Dunne-Hussey, who added her mother was surprised to see that an overflowing river could cause so much devastation.
While the worst of the flooding may be over in Calgary, concerns remained in areas downstream such as Medicine Hat, where 10,000 residents were instructed to head for higher ground as waters in the South Saskatchewan River rose.
Despite recent events, Dunne-Hussey has no thoughts of leaving Calgary out of fear such floods will become more commonplace.
“In Canada, this kind of event can happen anywhere. It’s just nature — it’s unpredictable and you don’t realize the force that it has. ... It’s the same thing in Newfoundland. Terrible weather and hurricanes, but everyone stays their ground.”
— With files from The Canadian Press