Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Canmore Flood of 2013

This is now my 3rd summer in Canmore. Each year it seems as if we deal with weather that we call monsoon June or Junuary. 
I thought that this would be the case again this year. In May it started to snow again... 

 Even if it rained in the valley, snow gathered on the peaks.

However, the weather never stopped us from getting our workouts in.

Yet, when June began, the amazing weather began. Most days were beautiful. The grasses were green, the trails were dry and Canmore was our own fairytale land of adventure.

We had about 2 weeks of warm weather and sun. After our bike rides we would go to a little pool of water in Cougar Creek (the runoff area for the mountains) for a cold tub. This are looks like a dry river bed, with a few pools of water here and there. 

However, last Thursday we were woken up by a knock on the door telling us the road leading into town was closed. We sort of laughed this off thinking, "How bad could it be? We woke up early for this?" Yet, overnight the rain of monsoon June that had been building for the last two beautiful weeks, hit us all at once. 

Apparently, it rained so much overnight that the water from the mountains drained into Cougar Creek. This creek usually has very little water and it grew to be a huge, raging river.
This is what we saw when we arrived on the scene.

 Throughout the day we saw many things float down the river including hot tubs, pipes and this trampoline... This yard was gone within 3 hours of this picture being taken.

People along the river were evacuated, and those that were able to moved some of their household items into neighbouring houses.
This has always been one of my favourite houses in Canmore. In front of this house was a huge area of rock and trees, where the bike path to one of my favourite trails ran through.

Never again will I underestimate the power of water. Throughout the day volunteers were working hard to make sure everyone stayed safe and try to save as much as they could. 

Within minutes of the machine on the right arriving on scene, the water took the road away. The trampoline used to be behind that large tree in the middle of the picture.

 The devastation that Canmore witnessed last Thursday is still incomprehensible. My heart goes out to the families who lost their houses and lots. For much of the day we were unable to leave our little neighbourhood because of the loss of that road. Eventually an access road opened, and we were able to get into town. Our power was off for a little while, our gas was off for a few days, and we are still under a boil water advisory, however our rental house was in a good location and we are safe.

This "creek" empties into the Bow River which then makes it's way to Calgary. We received many worried notes from our friends in Calgary, however the next day Calgary began experiencing the flood in a huge way. I have not been to Calgary yet because there is still limited travel to and from Calgary (especially travel into Canmore- you need official documentation of habitation here). However, I know many people were evacuated from their homes and Calgary experienced huge devastation.

My thoughts and prayers are with these families. I think everyone who is working hard to keep everyone safe, especially those who woke up the families at 3am to make sure that they left their houses.

Kindness always presents itself in these horrible situations. I have heard stories of people putting up families, giving people rides and one man paid for a woman's groceries when her cards didn't work.

Alberta has a lot of work ahead of them, but Canadians are always strong in adversity.

We are all currently safe in Canmore, weathering the bouts of pouring rain that come and go each day, even when it means sprinting up hills in pouring rain.

And to think... a week ago we were surfing in on of the rivers here...

You never know what each day will hold. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Olympic Reflection- Be Inspired

           Currently I sit looking out the window of my hotel room in Vancouver, where the mountains lay claim over the water. I stare out, barely registering the birds as they soar across the water, teasing the sailboats on their way to paradise. But, my mind is elsewhere; it is on people that I have just met, places that I have yet to go and events that have yet to occur.

     This weekend we sat through quite a few meetings, guest speakers and media interviews at the Olympic Excellence Summit. It is usually said about these events that, “It will be a good place to meet the other athletes”, hinting that everything else learned will simply be a bonus. Well in that case, I have received my Christmas bonus and end of the year bonus.

            The best parts of these few days were the guest speakers. As I sat at my table, with other future Olympians, my thoughts were on trying to introduce myself and remember everyone’s names, however as John Herdman, the Canadian women’s soccer team coach who led the team to bronze in London, started speaking, these previous worries didn’t matter anymore, we were captivated, mesmerized and most importantly of all, we were united, we were Canada. 

I have sung the Canadian anthem since I was a small child. I have used it to try out for school plays, I listened to it as I stood on the top of a podium. However, I will ask you the question that he asked us, have you ever actually listened to the lyrics?

John listened to our anthem and realized that Canada is the “true north strong and free”. As athletes, we rely on the coaches, but we make our own decisions; it is up to us to “see thee rise”. Yet, at times, before we can see our flag rise, we must pull ourselves from a fairly low place. One thing I have discovered is that when you do something for long enough, you will never get through it without struggling. 

It is always said that these struggles make us tougher and make us self aware, but when you are sitting there at what is said to be “the bottom”, these ideas don’t help much. 

This is where our bronze metal soccer team found themselves in the months leading up to London, however this was not such a terrible place to be. These tough moments, these black holes, are an opportunity to refocus, start again and make a hugely significant change that we may not have thought necessary before. Thus, as athletes, we promise to rise. 

Clara Hughes, an Olympian in both summer and winter Olympics, was next up on the agenda. I have met her before and she struck me as a confident, down to earth, successful woman. The kind that other people look at and wonder how she got to be so lucky. 

However, Clara has had to deal with such incredible emotional and physical struggle. She has dealt with depression, delinquency, losing a close teammate, sickness, and the list goes on. Through all of these craters, she has found a way to tell her story in a method that reaches others. It is so easy to merely focus on medals and results; that is all anyone cares about anyways, right? Wrong. Clara’s message came across loud and clear, “You can have an impact on others when you don’t think there will be one. Be that inspiration. Don’t underestimate the power of your actions, win or lose.” 

This made me decide that leading into these games, if I could take away one thing, it would be inspiration. I want to watch the country come together; I want to watch athletes give their everything, knowing that no matter what, they have done all they could; I want to watch people compete on the equal playing field that is the Olympics; I want to be inspired. However, I want to be that inspiration as well. At the race, I will bring everything that I have on that day, whatever that everything may be. Win or lose, medal or no medal, finish or no finish; I want my actions to speak to those Canadians at home. The nation that stands behind us “with glowing hearts” when we find ourselves in those dark places, and for that nation I will “stand on guard for thee”.