Personal flood stories provide strong motive for preventive measures

Reading stories about flood ravaged Southern Alberta we get just a glimpse of what hundreds of thousands of people are living through

Under water - Park area on the south side of the Red Deer River at Dickson Dam was under water on the weekend as high water volumes threatened other areas down river.

Reading stories about flood ravaged Southern Alberta we get just a glimpse of what hundreds of thousands of people are living through — the uncertainty, the pain and the grief. There have also been amazing stories of unselfish aid.

We know, in the end people will persevere, pick up their lives and continue on their paths.

It will take time, yet those memories will eventually dull.

There’s been little loss of life — it’s just the ‘things’ that have been damaged and destroyed.

We can consider ourselves blessed to live in a country where our neighbours are quick to come to our aid during emergencies. Communities rally around those who are displaced from their homes, those who have lost everything and those who have a long journey back to normalcy.

Over the past five days we’ve watched massive amounts of support and aid pour into our part of the world.

For those who have the ability to help, whether monetarily or by volunteering, we applaud you for stepping up to lend assistance. As MLA Kerry Towle states, in her column below, “folks need our help”. We echo her comments about doing everything you can to support our neighbours.

After people have had time to recover, there will be lots of talk about how to avoid similar disasters in our ultra-civilized country.

The first shot over the bow came Tuesday when New Democrat Leader Brian Mason criticized the government’s handling of the 2006 Groeneveld report that was not released until 2012.

“This week, former PC MLA George Groeneveld stressed that the strongest recommendation of his 2006 report was not to build houses or other buildings on flood plains,” said Mason’s news release. Groeneveld wrote the report after much of his riding flooded the previous year.

We remember discussion of this topic — building on flood plains — in Ontario over 40 years ago, yet it continues to happen.

Watching television news, we’ve noted that Southern Alberta isn’t unique as far as flooding, but it is unique in protecting its residents.

As neighbours rose to help, half a world away over 1,000 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides in the northern India state of Uttarakhand. Thousands more are still stranded in high mountain passes in the temple town of Badrinath.

A news report from that area stated, “hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus make a pilgrimage to Uttarakhand, visiting four of Hinduism’s holiest shrines in the state during the summer months. The tourists usually head down to the plains before the monsoon breaks in July. But this year, early rains caught hundreds of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and local residents.”

Rains washed away homes and roads, triggered landslides and cut off communications links. Sound familiar.

Just weeks ago the story was Central Europe where the Elbe River had broken through several dikes in northern Germany, and the crest of the swollen Danube River had reached southern Hungary, and threatened Serbia. Only about 22 people have died in these floods, from reports we could find.

A Financial Times report, commenting on the cost to insurance companies of Central Europe’s devastation, stated “the floods rank among the 10 most costliest on record worldwide”.

These are just two examples of what’s taking place in the wider world. For those consummate watchers of television news they will remember other reminders of the force of Mother Nature and the devastation she wreaks. Think of Manitoba or the Mississippi River which have been in the news in recent weeks.

At Norglenwold’s annual information meeting Saturday, a representative from the Red Cross talked about emergency preparedness — a timely topic given events still unfolding at that time.

He encouraged people to create their own plans and prepare for the potential of disaster. After all, as seen in Southern Alberta, many people only had seconds or, at most, a few minutes to grab what they could and evacuate.

While we live in a community and in a country where people are quick to come to our aid, we must prepare ourselves as well.

And following that theme, we believe there will be lots more ideas about how to mitigate future disasters.

Are we prepared to consider and embrace the ideas that make sense? We certainly hope so.

 

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