On June 20th, the most disastrous flood in 100 years hit in South Alberta. I woke up late in the morning of the day, I found some posts on Twitter talking about Canmore and Banff. Twitter posts were brief messages so I did not understand what was actually happening in Canmore. More people started posting on Facebook and I noticed the water level of the Bow River was drastically increased over night and houses along the river in Canmore were under danger of flood. Then the images on youtube were even more shocking. The Bow River was running violently. Actually, the high volume of broke the bridge on the highway 1 and access from Calgary to Canmore, Banff was shutdown.
I had a work to do at the other side of the city. I was driving on Memorial drive around 02:30 pm. The water level of the Bow River was very high but bridge pier were not covered by water. Actually people are still walking and jogging in the park along side of the Bow River. I remember people were talking about condition in Canmore and Banff, but not Calgary when I started my shift at 3 pm. But it did not take long for us to realize it was not unrelated disaster for us. The TV news was reporting showing horrible images of Bragg Creek, High River, and Bowness area was evacuated.
When I was going home from work at 11:30 pm, I saw many police cars everywhere. The Memorial Drive, which had been still safe 9 hrs ago, was now closed. Although it was nearly midnight, many people came out to watch violent river and take pictures.
Next day, when I woke up, Calgary was very different. All local TV news was reporting only the flood. Many areas were flooded and evacuated. Stampede Park was also flooded even though there were no more than 9 days by opening day of Calgary Stamped. I could not move from TV, not because I was excited by watching the news. I was just so shocked and lost energy. It was so devastating.
But I am a photographer. I could not stop the urge to document the disaster. But the images of the actual flood had been already published everywhere…hundreds of them. Moreover, I am not a press photographer. I was not interested in photographing violent water.
So I visited downtown on Saturday afternoon. All businesses in downtown core were closed but people could still access the area. The down town was really quiet, almost no traffic. It was like ghost town. Only I do remember is military truck passing my car. It was like one scene in a movie, “I am legend” but this was real.
Usually, many people are hanging around on Stephan Avenue, the main street of the downtown on Saturday afternoon. But I saw only some cyclists and securities patrolling closed building. Also I think I saw some business owners came to their stores to check something before closing for days. Usually, I cannot photograph shadow like this picture in a busy normal day.
All restaurant were closed, even Macdonald. In normal weekend, people are enjoying beer and dining everywhere on the Stephan Avenue.
More photos and stories are coming in the future posts.