After Every Storm the Sun will Smile

After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer. – William R. Alger

I’m going to let it shine!

In times of need, it may feel dark. You may feel helpless and hopeless. After the June flooding in Southern Alberta, this is how many people still feel. The floods devastated a good part of my community, yet we cannot let that hinder our spirit.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16.

Last weekend marked a huge milestone for High River. It marked 100 days since the flood. Slowly the town is being put back together. A temporary business park opened to host local businesses who lost their store fronts. The Canadian Hot Air Balloon put on a spectacular show that included a glow balloon night. Then the annual River City Classic show and shine took place to cap off the weekend.

Sure it is sad to see the state of our town. Yet I am grateful for all the businesses that have returned. It will be even more satisfying when these businesses can return home! I am also grateful for these larger events to have continued despite everything this town had gone through. It was beautiful to see all the people who came out to support the glow balloons. It was wonderful to see all the people who came out for the car show.

It may be baby steps, yet if we keep our lamps lit, there remains a shimmer of hope. If we build it, they will come (Phil Robinson’s – Field of Dreams)

Unless…

I was reminded lateley of one of my favorite quotes from the Lorax.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
In the aftermath of the flood, so many people have been trying to point the finger as to who was to blame. Who is to blame them when a town worker states that yes one of the communities was sacrificed in order to drain some of the other communities faster. Everyone is looking for answers, and everyone is looking for funding so they can start to rebuild their lives. Some people are covered by insurance or disaster recovery, while others are not.
 
I believe it is up to ourselves to stand up for what we believe in. As well, while we are waiting, it is best to do what you can for your family. It is important to stay on top of everything so any applications don’t fall through the cracks. It is important to ask questions, even if the answer is no. So many people have a deep fear of rejection that they are afraid to ask any questions. They are afraid of confrontation.
 
If  your home has contanimated land, why not pick up a shovel and start removing it yourself. Yes it may take awhile, yet anything can be accomplished in baby steps. Now it may not be as easy as it sounds, and many people do not have a lot of disposable income, especially after this disaster to start fixing everything on their own. Yet at the same time, we should not sit and wallow in self-pity, as that solves nothing. Be proactive and start looking for solutions.

Is this a test???

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Is High River ready for an exodus? It may seem like it after the catastrophic flooding of June a month ago, now followed by a hail storm of up to golf ball sized! What’s next, the locusts? It has been a true testing of faith. Like Exodus 7-11, are we being forewarned to leave this area so many have called home, or is it simply a cruel Mother Nature seeking some revenge.

The freak thunderstorm once again flooded some streets as the storm drains have not fully recovered. Hail littered lawns like a fresh fallen snow. Leaves were everywhere, struck down by wind and hail. Insurance companies are not going to like us High Riverittes soon. First flood, now hail.

We should move on further down the Bible to Job 1:21 …”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away, may the name of The Lord be praised.”

I often also find solace in Matthew 7:7-8.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be open.

During times of hardship it is important to be grateful for what you have. It can be tough, and like Job’s wife, we may want to foresake The Lord. Yet we can persevere, we can rise again from the ashes. Let’s keep on mucking!

Thanks be to God!

Stuff

It is truly amazing how little “stuff” we actually need in our lives until we have little or next to nothing. During the disaster of the 2013 High River Flood, my family and I escaped with the clothes on our backs. My kids were greatly concerned about Pinkie, Lucy and their blankets. I assured them that Pinkie, Lucy and their blankets were up stairs and would be fine.

I was grateful for the fact our main floor was unscathed. It meant our bedrooms and main living space were okay. For the weeks while we were out of our house, we had to rely on clothing donations from friends and family. It was humbling to ask for help. It was humbling to literally live out of plastic bags for a short time. You learn to appreciate simple things such as underwear, toothbrushes, and even a suitcase.

Even once we obtained access to our home again, we were not immediately allowed to live there. We gathered up many of our clothes to wash them and have some familiar outfits. I then realized how much clothing our family had amassed. Even once I got my own clothes back, over the last few days I realized how little I actually wear. Our office has been allowing us to dress casually. I came to the realization that we truly only need a few shirts, pants, and some underwear and socks. It is possible to live without the gigantic walk-in closets stuffed to the brim. Our kids truly only wear a few outfits as well. If they were allowed, they would probably live in their one or 2 favorite dresses or shirts.

Overall, this flood has been a cleansing moment, purging us of our unneeded goods. It has allowed is to re-evaluate what is most important to this flood. Is it truly about the stuff, or can we be strong and move beyond the physical into the spiritual healing?

A new kind of normal!

It has been almost 4 weeks since the waters of the Highwood spilled their banks. The quaint town of High River was devastated by this disaster. Home after home has had at least the basement gutted, with people’s lives heaped in a giant pile on the front lawn. Driving through the streets it is the same. Heaps and more heaps. Lost souls wandering through the town trying to figure out where to start. Each person mourning over their losses only to step outside to see the rest of the neighbourhood, the rest of the town in shambles.

Tensions are high. Residents want to start rebuilding their lives. There are many unanswered questions.

Driving through Section 1 as it’s now called, life is starting to look like normal. Lawns are manicured and recovering; the heaps have been removed. My in-laws house looks almost like nothing ever happened. Look in the basements however, and lives have been gutted.

Some families have no house to return to. Even if still structurally sound, the houses have been attacked by mould. Some people will never return, broken by this flood. Others will persevere and carry on. Slowly picking up the pieces. All we ask for are answers. Answers on what measures need to be taken to protect properties from future floods. Answers on where do people relocate should they abandon their homes.

It will be a slow process. We will rise again.

Always look on the bright side of life!

Alrighty folks, you get an extra treat this week; yet another blog!

During times of stress our minds are wonderful at playing tricks on us. I am one who tries to look on the bright side of life. During our evacuation, you want to think, pray and hope for the best, yet at the same time there is a piece of you that tries to prepare yourself for the worst.

The night before we were allowed to see our house, I felt like a kid at Christmas. I was excited and anxious. I was also nervous as heck to know the status of our house and what would be the next steps. The fear of the unknown is probably one of the greatest fears ever.

Like many I hoped for the best. Even though I had seen first hand our flooded block. My in-laws got access to their place about 5 days before us. My mother-in-law said to pray for red. At this time we all still thought if your house was red it meant it was condemned and would be bulldozed. Later we found out, if your house was red, it did not mean bulldoze, it would simply take a lot more work to get it to a living stage once again.

Our house turned out to be orange. This meant we needed to have our heating system inspected and perhaps replaced, and we had a wall blown out. The wall is not a load bearing wall. It simply needs to be replaced so we can secure our premise. Being orange also means we are not allowed to live in our house at this time. I’m actually grateful for this as we have been able to limit our daughters from seeing a lot of the damage. As well, the mold growing in the basement could pose a health risk.

That night before seeing our house, my mind played yet another trick. This time is was on the worry end instead of the hopeful end. I had a dream our upstairs floor had caved in. We are very fortunate there was no damage to our main floor. When I went to see our house, I didn’t know what to expect. I was sadden to see it in that state. The mold growth was incredible. The stench of the fridges was beyond imaginable. You didn’t even need to open the fridge and you could smell it. Then once the cleanup began, each house had a mountain of debris sitting beside it.

I am most grateful for the countless volunteers that have been helping our town. Some even using their stampede day to come down to High River to assist.

As mentioned in my Wednesday blog this week, it is now a time to cleanse. Water has always been symbolized as a source of cleansing. This was certainly not clean water by far, yet it has helped us to purge. It has also given us time to reflect on what truly is important in our lives. I am grateful my family was safe. I am grateful for the pumper truck that rescued my family. I’m also grateful for the gas worker who rescued our dog.

It is important to find even the smallest ray of sunshine. As Katy Perry sings in the song Fireworks You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine, just own the night like the 4th of July. This is one of my favorite songs.

It is the spark. It is the little smile. It is the hug from a new friend. It is the helping hand. It is knowing you’re alive.

You need to take each day at a time. This journey is like a marathon; you need to keep putting one foot forward. It may take baby steps, yet we will recover.

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