Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Post-flood timing . . .

. . . or how we know it's not over yet.
Sharon Wildwind

Flood update
The state of emergency for Calgary was lifted at 10:16 AM, Thursday, July 4. It is estimated that 1,200 people will be out of their  homes for at least 6 months, while repairs are made. Between 550 and 900 people will be out of their homes for 12-18 months, possibly forever. We have no idea which category the elderly people in three downtown subsidized buildings fall.

Some buildings have already been demolished because they unsafe for human habitation and not able to be repaired. Engineering assessment teams are far from finished in determining how many more buildings will have to come down.

The city is building temporary neighborhoods, using trailers. Best guess is that this temporary housing will accommodate between 40% and 50% of the Calgarians who will be out of their houses for months or forever. The amount of rental accommodations available in the city was about 1% before the flood; for now and the foreseeable future, it is zero.

In animal news, firefighters rescued a cat from underneath an undermined sidewalk. The cat had been missing 5 days. 

One (or maybe two) female meerkats, rescued from flood waters at the Calgary zoo, have given birth to five pups. It’s hard to tell who the mothers are because meerkats tend the young communally.

In less-happy animal news the zoo laid off 287 seasonal, full-time, or part-time employees. They have retained 185 staff to rebuild the site and care for the animals. It will be November or December before the zoo is completely open, and repairs are expected to cost $50 million.

Saturday morning I did errands to do in three previously-flooded neighborhoods, including downtown. It was a weird experience. That weirdness wasn’t just the closed businesses, the constant sound of electric saws and power tools, and the sad spectacle of flood-damaged goods piled in yards, waiting to be hauled away.

People did normal things: catch busses, sell bus passes, sell coffee, walk down the street, but the timing was off. So was what constituted invading other people’s body space. People were over-friendly where they would normally be reserved and vice versa. It was as if we hadn’t quite regained Calgary timing.

I saw a lot of tired-looking people, a lot of unsure faces. More people than usual were taking public transit. Normally at stops people pretty much ignore one another. This time there were always lots of questions. “Is this the right stop for the 302?” “Is the fare three dollars?” “Do you know how far down 9th Avenue this bus goes?”

I thought, yeah, this is the difference between researching something and living where it’s happening. It’s important for a writer to realize that there are some details no amount of research will provide.

I came home Saturday in a quirky mood, and I think that contributed to finding this video stunning. Not that it’s not stunning in its own right. This week, instead of a quote, you get a video link.

The Soniferous Æther of The Land Beyond The Land Beyond is a 35mm film installation shot at the northernmost settlement on earth— ALERT Signals Intelligence Station— as part of a series of fieldworks looking at remote outpost architecture, military infrastructure and the embedded landscape. Shot using a computer controlled time‐lapse tracking camera during the winter months, the military spy outpost radiates within a shroud of continuous darkness under a star-pierced canopy harkening an abandoned space station.

The sound track (intentionally, I think) has crackles, pops, and part of it may be in Russian. I can’t hear it well enough to tell. If the sound bothers you, watch the visuals with the sound off.

At least on my computer, between 2:34 and 2:51 there is one stop for a few seconds and some jerky movements. I suspect both of those things are intentional as well.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Sharon, it's interesting you see the change in personal space and interaction as "over-friendly" and "off timing." In New York, we're proud and pleased that in times of disaster (at least during the honeymoon period right afterward--a technical term, not kidding), we become kinder and more connected with each other. This happened with 911 and Sandy and has also occurred every time we've had a citywide blackout or a major blizzard.

Anonymous said...

Liz, there is a lot of that going on, too, being encouraged by almost everyone who makes a public statement.

What I was noticing is probably a numbness and an uncertainty of what next? Even with everything that has happened, 9/10ths of Calgary wasn't flooded. It's like tripping on a crack in the sidewalk. People aren't sure yet what going forward means.