Sunday morning arrived with a crack of lightning and a torrent of worries for many people in Chestermere. Water levels rose and first covered the road down our street (whew, good thing we don’t live down there), then it filled the street in front of our home (oh, no), then onto our lawn, then up across our gardens and soon the whole neighbourhood was under water. Backyards, basements, intersections, and fields became the unhappy hosts for a flood that rarely happens in our city. What started as an entertaining lighting storm turned into a flood of frustration and sadness for many.
We got a call from the school where Lake Ridge Community Church meets; the parking lot was a new lake and the power was out. We canceled the worship service and soon we were scrambling across town to move around pumps and generators. Knee deep in a basement full of rainwater, pulling up half submerged children’s art, I felt the weight of a morning no one expected.
Back on my own street neighbours in rubber boots and pyjamas emerged from their porches, wide eyed at the river before us. Neighbours were asking back and forth if everyone was OK, if basements were still dry, and if there was anything each other could do to help. A neighbour from one street over, who I met at our recent block party, came over to help open up a clogged sewer grate. Another neighbour helped us shovel the debris off of our lawn.
Studies have shown how people truly respond during natural disasters, and it may not be what you think. Action movies depict panic, violence, and every-man-for-himself-chaos in the wake of a crisis. But the truth is that during major floods or storms, people respond with genuine care for those around them. As I drove around Chestermere I saw it first hand; our was a city in full-on care-mode.
Help and safety may not come in the form of a well-laid plan or a pocket full of resources. It often comes in the form of a person, a friend, and a neighbour. On Sunday, July 12th we witnessed people stepping out, into the deep waters, to help each other out. It was neighbourliness at its best.
God said, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” One of the ways that God is with us in the difficult times is that he sends along others to help us when we’re up to our neck in a situation we can’t handle. He gives us neighbours, friends, churches, and families who don’t leave us to flounder on our own. No matter what your ‘deep waters’ may be this week, know that you have been given the promise that you are never alone.
Into the Neighbourhood Experiment: During this week of recovery, find ways to serve and help those affected by the flood. In what ways has this flood changed the way you see the people who live around you?