Tornado in Denver last week, travelled up the eastern slopes of the Rockies and parked: much rain. Mandatory evacuation order issued in Calgary's river valleys Thursday, but not my block, the last before the railway tracks. Curious. Voluntary evacuation on the street left just four houses occupied. Very quiet; dystopian moment Friday morning in the back alley – bottle picker cutting the lock off a mountain bike, cycled away whistling. Kept walking every few hours down to the river, three blocks away, empty streets, very eerie, reminded me of the end of On the Beach.
By Saturday I'd had enough of flood, however at the eastern end of the neighbourhood a great chunk of bank was swept away putting a long block of new houses right at the edge of a cliff. In comes the army and lots of heavy lifting equipment and bolsters the cliff with large concrete blocks.
Sunday, water in the Bow about 6' down, neighbourhood still evacuated, now not even any gawkers – boring now that the water isn't bashing at the bridge deck, usually about 12' above water level.
Spent Friday moving the contents of the basement up to the ground floor: the archive of my life – much too much stuff. The fear is always of reverse sewer action filling one's basement with toxic glurk. This flooding thing will happen again, so vow that what goes back to the basement will be very thinned out.
Saturday, doing some thinning: acres of paper, photocopies of articles and essays – Barthes on the Eiffel Tower – never seen it before but the margins are full of my notes. I appear to have been quite smart once.
A beautiful essay by Aijaz Ahmad of which there were several copies so I must have given it out in a course. How to take all the excitement out of a favourite essay: assign it. Half the students don't read it and try to wing it in the discussion. A quarter don't read it and tell you it was irrelevant, the rest read it but don't know what to think about it, one person quotes it appropriately in their term paper and you give him an A.
Sunday, looked at the river, evacuation order still on, but so is the power and the gas, so I'm lucky. Downtown last night inky dark as the power is off protecting the transformers. Mowed the lawn, listened to Gardener's Question Time – guaranteed to restore equilibrium in times of unease.
Too much rainfall filled the Elbow River at its source in the mountains, it over-filled the Glenmore Reservoir and then joined the already flooded Bow River at the western corner of my neighbourhood: it crested here Saturday morning, and that crest is travelling at high speed down the Bow where it will meet the South Saskatchewan River and Medicine Hat later today. Then it will continue east, through Saskatchewan and all its river towns, on to Manitoba where it will eventually enter Lake Winnipeg, not unknown to flood. every year.
It has been very odd living in an empty neighbourhood, just us and the birds, no cars, no neighbours, no roar of traffic on the nearby Deerfoot Trail but a more local sound of a sump pump bailing out the basement of an old apartment building on 9th Avenue, the main street. The water coming out of the hoses is clear and sweet, not the milk chocolate colour of the river water. It feels like a much earlier time.