Thursday, June 27, 2013

Calgary’s spirit shines in Bowness

A flood for the record books has resulted in Calgarians rising to the challenges and responding to the crisis with big hearts and helping hands.

Bowness, one of the communities heavily impacted by the flood was full of life with volunteers eagerly helping to alleviate the stress of residents. The power of community support is clearly evident.

Evacuee Megan Robinson, says, “I think the best thing to do for people who are hit hard by something like this, is to go out and help others.”  And that’s exactly what she and Cayla Spiess did.

The pair purchased 34 dozen donuts to hand out to residents and volunteers tackling the mud.  “There was a woman yesterday who had tears in her eyes when she took a donut from us.  She had lost so much, and this is the least we could do.”

The action in Bowness truly shows that heroes come in all shapes, sizes and trades.

Off-duty firefighters, Lieutenant Marty Hurtubise and David Biglin went above and beyond the call of duty as they responded to homeowners’ electrical needs.  Biglin was a journeyman electrician, so when he found out The City was in need of electricians he immediately stepped up to the plate.  

Working with Enmax, both Hurtubise and Biglin visited more than thirty homes and ensured there were no electrical concerns so residents could re-enter their homes safely.

“There are a lot of off-duty firefighters helping” says Biglin.  “Everybody understands the situation and we are here to do a very small part.”

Biglin isn’t the only firefighter lending a hand in Bowness.  Craig Kibisko, a new firefighter recruit started making calls to his classmates who were on their days off early Tuesday morning with the intent of rounding up help to gut basements, pump water and provide electrical support.  “We have guys dedicating their days to volunteer and then going in for night shifts,” says Kibisko.  “We wanted to give back to the ones who need it.”
Firefighters aren’t the only ones lending a hand.  Calgarians, Liz Gatzsch and Carolyn Sainchuk wanted to give back too.  They handed out 150 sandwiches yesterday and another 150 today.   “People are working non-stop and there isn’t a lot of time to break for a bite to eat,” says Gatzsch.

Others such as YYCHelp volunteers, Cathy Kaytor and Valerie Gibbs, have been up to their knees in mud cleaning out basements and scraping dirt. Shaw volunteers have been handing out water, food, batteries, flashlights, ventilation masks and even teddy bears to paint smiles on children’s faces.

There is still a lot of work to do in the many days ahead.  As we continue to respond and restore the city, it’s incredible to see the high spirits, generosity, and resiliency of Calgarians.   Way to go Calgary, your stories of heroism are just one example of why this City a great place to live.