Yesterday, after a week of consistent rainfall we had a break from the downpour. The sun came out and hell, I even got sunburnt on the back of my neck! After much debate with myself and my morals I decided to leave the top of the valley where we had safely been for the past few days and head down into the valley to check it all out for myself. I started at McHugh’s Bluff where most of my photos have been taken from and headed down the bluff to the community of Sunnyside, one of the communities affected directly from the overspill of the Bow River. I felt guilty being down there taking photos as some people had returned to their homes to assess the damage and move into recovering what they could and trying to figure out to get all of the water out of their houses and basements. I asked if there was something I could do to help, I was more than happy to do what I could but they simply replied they have no idea what to do themselves but thank you anyway.
Walking through the neighbourhood, I chose to be as respectful as possible and keep to the trails rather than wander through the streets. The smell of gasoline was so strong walking through. I am not sure if it was just from peoples generators or from pumps pumping out water or simply from spilt fuel but it truly was strong walking through there.
I made my way to Memorial Drive, one of Calgary major roads that runs along the Bow River and connects the city’s inner north east to north west. Roads were under water still and pathways along the river had collapsed into the torrent just pounding the banks. I saw a couple of YouTube clips last night of trees along Memorial giving way into the city. There wasa huge tree pinned to the Centre Street Bridge. I was certain this was one of the trees I saw collapse.
The state of the Centre Street Bridge underpass was in shambles with debris all over the road as the water level which is basically at the level of the road pounds against the side of the bridge and slip under to the other side.
I crossed the bridge and decided to head downtown to check out the damage. As I started to walk into the centre of the city the army pulled in. They have been here for the past couple of days crusing around, assessing the damage and deploying troops to places that most need the help.
Walking downtown was a surreal moment. I felt like I was in a movie. The streets were empty but it was so load as alot of the buildings had their generators pumping. It was such a loud drone of background noise and like Sunnyside, the air was filled with the smell of gasoline. The water had receded but the evidence of the flood was present with branches, pieces of wood and mud everywhere. I took some photos of some of the most busiest sections of downtown. Well, normally the busiest. These ares were dead.
I headed up Macload Trail, another one of Calgary’s most busiest streets. It is one of the main roads that lead from north to south. Traffic was non-existant! The reason, well the underpasses that go under the train lines not just on Macload but all along 9th where the crossroads head south under the train lines these underpasses were filled to the brim! I have some images below but take note of the 3rd image. The water is well and truly above road level as it is but the whole underpass is flooded to the pint where it goes all the way up to the bridge and touches the train lines.
I kept heading along 9th to Inglewood. I had covered a few miles already but I thought while I am walking i may as well see how the Elbow River is doing. The Elbow is the little cousin of the Bow. It too comes from the mountains so there was a hell of a lot of force coming through still. I was interested in seeing how the Elbow, the very river that could possibly force the organisers of Calgary’s biggest event the Calgary Stampede to cancel! The show grounds are flooded! Race tracks, grand stands, the Saddledome which is our largest indoor arena that seats 20,000 people and hosts concerts, hockey, rodeos and any large event was filled with water and flooded to row 14!
It was certainly pumping through but not at the force of the Bow.
Although the water was still pushing through at a frantic pace I was happy to see that the levels had gone down. This may just be the last of it…
There is a new footbridge in the area that they have been building over the past few months. The force of the river has totally torn through the structure. It isn’t going to be easy fixing this up.
I finished off walking along the Bow back to Centre Street. It was a big day, tiring, confronting and so surreal. Here are a couple more photos from the way home…