Story by American Red Cross volunteer, Vicki White Eichstaedt
It is eerily quiet in High River today. No people, no cars, no movement.
I joined a group of Red Cross and other community volunteers on a bus tour of the heavily damaged community. Thick dust flew as the bus disturbed the dried, caked mud that covers nearly every surface. Yellow, orange or red tapes marked the front doors of homes – a record of the damage assessment completed by government engineers. Evergreen trees with branches up three feet high, dragged down by caked mud and debris.
The power of the floodwaters was displayed in the random boats that were loosened from their moorings and driven into garages, homes, yards, and across rail tracks. The depth of the water was marked on the windows of homes and businesses. Street after street now lined on both sides with furrows of mud scraped up a foot high.
As we returned, it was not quiet back at the community center. Red Cross workers distributed cleanup and hygiene kits; cases of water were loaded into residents’ cars. People also appreciated picking up bug spray, masks, garbage bags and gloves.
There were so many faces and so many stories. Neighbors hugged and reconnected, listening and supporting one another as they shared their experiences. I saw determination and brave resilience. I heard words of comfort and care.
I am a volunteer with the American Red Cross, privileged to be here to help my Canadian colleagues with their response to this historic flooding. As Canadians prepare to celebrate Canada Day on July 1, and Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, the Red Cross remembers and recognizes the sacrifices of patriots and celebrates the opportunities to serve our neighbors. Canadian Red Cross is part of the fabric of flood-ravaged communities, like High River, throughout Alberta. Our staff and volunteers still live and work here. Red Cross is in High River, and many other communities today. Red Cross was part of these communities before the floods, and will be here tomorrow, for recovery, and for the future.