A Little Extreme Never Hurt Anyone… Or Did It?
Whew! I have taken a bit of time off to recover from the Extreme Saskatchewan tour. It turned out to be a little more extreme than anticipated! Sure — early mornings, late nights and intensive time on location were all part of the plan. What wasn’t part of the plan was record-smashing torrential rain and flooding; some challenges in the hotel; and half the tour group getting sick. That included me, and I’m just now getting fully back on my feet. Yikes… that was a bit extreme!
Despite the adverse conditions, I personally had a great time on the tour and did some very pleasing photography, especially once the sideways torrents let up. However I will come back to that in a following post. Right now I just want to note that my enjoyment is tempered by the realization that the heavy rains were disastrous for many residents of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, and beyond. Flooding damaged or destroyed many homes, farms and businesses. A section of the TransCanada highway collapsed and cut off this major route for east-west access between the two provinces for several days, disrupting transportation for many travelers and commercial drivers. A bridge on a secondary highway near Medicine Hat was washed out, blocking that road.
Our tour group was in Maple Creek, SK on June 18 when apparently at least one dam broke, and flood waters hit the town. The classic old Commercial Hotel where we had done some photography that morning, as well as a fine restaurant (The Star Cafe & Grill) where we had an excellent lunch, were both probably flooded within an hour of us having been in them. I suspect Howard’s Bakery, where we’d picked up a snack on first hitting town that morning, was probably also flooded. These were all places we spent time, and where we talked to people local to the town. At Howard’s Bakery, some folks were discussing concerns about dams apparently before there was any knowledge of the flood waters heading for town!
We walked out of the The Star happy and well fed, and were completely caught off-guard by the sight of water rushing down the road. The rains had let up, so seeing the flood level rise as we watched was a real shock. It was very sad to know these places were going to be hit and there was nothing that could stop it.
My wife & I had our Calgary house flooded in 2005; I know first hand what this kind of thing can be like. So our sympathies are with everyone affected by the heavy rains over the past couple of weeks.
More than sympathy is needed. If you can spare any helpful form of support, please consider donating to the Canadian Red Cross relief effort for the severe weather that hit the southern prairies this month.