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The calm after the fury...
Well, here I am. 

It's been three weeks to the day since the  flood that tried its darnedest to destroy my hometown.  During the past 21 days I've made a breakneck voyage back to Canada to assess the damage to my own flood-damaged property  and to help my family with their two flooded properties, and have been through  every emotion you could possibly imagine--from the sadness and despair that come  with the realization that life in this little village will never be the same again to  the hope that it can be rebuilt even though it will never look the same. 

The widespread destruction of property and landscape is overwhelming, but it is equalled in scale by the outpouring of compassion and assistance from all corners of the province, the country, and the continent.  Countless volunteers have worked tirelessly not only to help with cleanup in the aftermath of the flood, but also to feed hundreds of people displaced from their homes, to round up donations of clothing and essential items, and to organize a variety of committees for fundraising and victims' advocacy. 

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Salvation Army Food Truck
I cannot say enough about the countless organizations that have helped us  throughout this ordeal--everyone from the Red Cross who provided meals and clean  drinking water for the victims and volunteers to the volunteer firemen who journeyed here from  all over the province to help clear out victims' homes and businesses. 

A special thanks to the  minister driving along the streets in a Salvation Army van handing out  sandwiches and fruit to the residents whose homes had been essentially  destroyed--a sandwich may not seem like much, but when you've lost everything  and don't know what you're going to eat that day, it means the world.  I thank  God for every time I walked out of a store during the holidays and put a few  dollars in the Salvation Army red pot.  You never know when you're going to be  the one needing the help of an organization like them, and they have proven to  be a bright spot in a very dark time.

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Gram's pink flamingoes--they survived the flood!
The cleaning up process is a dirty, disheartening one--in the first week after the flood I helped my family clear out generations of keepsakes from what was the basement of my Grandmother's house.  My Great-Grandmother's trunk containing her jewellery and photos, my Grandfather's old railroad trunk that held his pipe and tool box, my Grandmother's vast collection of owls that she left to me when she passed away....  all in a soggy, dirty, smelly mess that we picked through to see if any small item could be salvaged, and mostly threw out to the curb where massive trucks collected the debris left behind from generations of lives lived.   

I was surprised and elated to be able to salvage a couple of items from Gram's owl collection, as well as a couple of pink flamingoes that I had posted about just prior to the disaster.  One of those handsome lads is eventually making his way back to Florida with me to hang out with Mr Flamingo in the back garden! 

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Motivational Fire Department Sign
Although I am profoundly saddened walking along the streets of my hometown, I am simultaneously thankful that no lives were lost during the disaster, and that the town seems to be hopeful--hopeful that life will eventually return to normal, that the hospital will re-open, that businesses will rebuilt and be prosperous, and that residents will somehow salvage what is left of their homes and continue on with life.  The village will never be 'normal' again in the sense that it was before the morning of Friday, March 23rd 2012.... but it will eventually reach a new normal with the perserverence and drive that its residents have always shown.  I was particularly moved by the sign on the riverbank across from the local firehall...

TOGETHER WE WILL PREVAIL

And we will.

 


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