The flood at Redwood Meadows

These clouds dropped massive rain in the mountains and on the Foothills for several days, swelling the rivers that run towards Calgary.

These clouds dropped massive rain in the mountains and on the Foothills for several days, swelling the rivers that run towards Calgary.

Our community of Redwood Meadows is located along the Elbow River west of Calgary.  Normally, the river is a steady flow that winds out of Kananaskis Country through the Foothills and drains into the Weaselhead delta in the city.  For the past week, heavy rain and snowmelt swelled the river far above its channels and in many places along its path expanded well beyond its banks.

On June 20th the water was still rising when I took this photograph along the bank of the Elbow River.  The water continued to rise for several hours afterwards.  The line of the berm created by the rocks, sandbags and the trees along the left side were all eroded by the river and disappeared by June 21st.

On June 20th the water was still rising when I took this photograph along the bank of the Elbow River. The water continued to rise for several hours afterwards. The line of the berm created by the rocks, sandbags and the trees along the left side were all eroded by the river and disappeared by June 21st.

Owing to a sustained fight by emergency workers, volunteers, community members and skilled heavy machinery crews to reinforce the berm that separates the town from the river, the water was kept out of most houses.  I did not stop to take many photographs during the river’s rise, we were sandbagging and racing to shore up the berm.  I did grab a few afterwards to remember how close the water came to making things significantly worse in Redwood Meadows.

By June 22nd, when this photograph was taken, the Elbow's waters had crested.  Here the emergency work to shore up the berm can be seen.  The bend in the river here had carved out the bank and nearly collapsed a wide section of the berm.

By June 22nd, when this photograph was taken, the Elbow’s waters had crested. Here the emergency work to shore up the berm can be seen. The bend in the river here had carved out the bank and nearly collapsed a wide section of the berm.  The small trees fallen over on the left are what remains of the stand that can be seen in the image above. 

The reinforcement of the berm continues with many truckloads of concrete blocks and rock boulders being positioned to defend against the next time the Elbow’s temper flares again.

A member of the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services patrols a weak point of the berm along the river.

A member of the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services patrols a weak point of the berm along the river.

The story of this year’s flood from Bragg Creek and into Calgary (where the Elbow joined the Bow River and unleashed true destruction), is still unfolding.  The waters have crested, many people are back in their homes and the cleaning up has begun.  There is great community spirit at all places affected and we will all need that over the next weeks and months.

A layer of mud blankets the forest near the Elbow.

A layer of mud blankets the forest near the Elbow.

The water ripped away trees and changed the shape of the valley.  It carried mud through the forest and left a heavy layer behind when it receded.  I found this small flower which had weathered the deluge and seemed to be a good symbol of strength and resilience.  Two qualities I have seen in my neighbours, friends and strangers who rallied to save a town and continue to work to bring it back to normal.

Resilience - 2013 © Christopher Martin

8 responses

  1. Pingback: Wertheim Germany, An Easy, Beautiful Walk From The River | Chris Cruises

  2. Pingback: Canada Day at Redwood Meadows | Christopher Martin Photography

  3. When Irene went through Vermont a couple years ago it just scoured out the riverbeds and they still look odd with the stones added to try and stem the flood waters. It is amazing what water can do and how high and wide it can spread, much more than we expect it can.

    June 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

  4. Could hardly believe my eyes as I watched the devastation unfold before my eyes on TV. All the best to you and your family as you recover from this harrowing experience. … Dorothy 🙂

    June 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm

  5. It has been an amazing week in Alberta for thousands of people who have had extensive damage or even lost their homes due to the flooding. Thanks for sharing photos of the process, Christopher and my thoughts and prayers go out to all, especially to those in High River and the reserves. Can’t get over the raging water in some of these shots and like the image of hope at the end.

    June 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm

  6. Mother Nature at her best and worst. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all those affected by the floods.

    June 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

  7. It is amazing powerful the Nature is – Destroying here and flowering there. What is fair for the people is not the same for the Nature, am I right? – Thanks for showing all, Christopher 😀

    June 26, 2013 at 8:54 am

  8. We saw images of the flooding on the news here as well… Our hearts go out to all of you and we wish everyone the best of luck in cleaning up and recovering after the damage/mess the floods have made.

    June 26, 2013 at 8:45 am

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