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Victorians lend hand for Alberta cleanup

Recovery efforts in southern Alberta continue after flooding devastated areas in and around Calgary starting on June 20.
Lindsay Vogan is among the Victoria residents who have headed out to southern Alberta to help in the recovery efforts for areas affected by massive flooding.

Some Victorians are among the kind souls from across the country who have volunteered their time to go to Alberta and help with flood recovery.

Recovery efforts in southern Alberta continue after flooding devastated areas in and around Calgary starting on June 20.

Among those pitching in is Lindsay Vogan, a public relations employee for the Sooke School District and Westshore Chamber of Commerce. She is a volunteer with the Victoria's Red Cross communications team and was on call to help out. She got the call on Wednesday, June 26 and was told she was flying out in two hours.

At the time of the interview (Tuesday, July 2) Vogan was in High River, volunteering with the Red Cross in its efforts to help those whose lives have been uprooted by the unprecedented flooding.

Damages in Calgary and other communities range from flooded out basements and lower floors to homes which have had to have been completely gutted as a result of water damage.

Vogan estimated a third to half of High River was still under water. A provincial state of emergency was still in place for the community at the time of writing.

Volunteers have been working every day for 8 to 16 hours, said Vogan, providing support to people in need and other agencies in their efforts to help. Assessment has been another major job, determining what people need and how to go about with the clean up.

"Non-stop. It's pretty amazing," Vogan said. "We're supporting shelters, we're not running them. Lots of communities have come together to run them."

Residents from different zones in the community have started to be allowed to return to their homes to assess damage and recover items, but because sewage, electricity and other utilities are still down, the people are still having to stay in shelters or with family or friends.

"The water is just receding so slowly," Vogan said. "They've just lost everything.

Mostly they're just happy that they're safe, and most people are safe. … The most vulnerable people are the worst hit. Like the elderly people, it's really hard for them, or people that just don't have a lot of support."

Some have managed to find some humour in tough times.

"For others it's like 'Well, we needed to clean out house, so God did it for us,' is what they've said," Vogan said.

The Red Cross are one of many agencies and groups of people who have come out to help.

"They're were more volunteers than there were jobs for them to do," Vogan said.

The deployment is the first for Vogan, who said it has been rewarding to help people within Canada during an emergency.

"I've never seen disaster," Vogan said. "It's been a lot of hard work but it's really rewarding to know you're helping somebody, even by giving them a bottle of water, or just listening to their story. …

"Everyone is just so thankful for it too. They cry a lot."

Vogan was scheduled to return to Victoria today.