Rebuilding after the Alberta Floods: Demolition party in Erlton, Calgary

Topics: Alberta, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
June 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Keith J. Howie

Not many people would celebrate the demolition of their home. But any sadness felt by Mona and John Hayes as a massive backhoe plowed under their flood-damaged house in Calgary has swiftly been replaced by feelings of gratitude and celebration. The couple is eager to have a place to call home again, after the Alberta Floods destroyed their house in the Erlton neighbourhood last year.

“This starts a new chapter in our lives,” says Mona. “It’s actually exciting that we’re going to have a new house. Of course, after the flood it was very hard, then the middle months were very messy and frustrating, but I think it’s going to be better in the end.”

With help from Red Cross, the couple has been renting an apartment and covering expenses while they wait for their inner-city home to be rebuilt.  Just days after flood waters damaged countless properties across southern Alberta, Red Cross funded Samaritan’s Purse to help with the massive clean up. Red Cross is also funding the repair and rehabilitation of 210 homes in High River through the work of Habitat for Humanity, Mennonite Disaster Services, World Renew and Samaritan’s Purse.

Now, Samaritan’s Purse is building the Hayes’ new Craftsman-style home on the site of their demolished house. Mona, a hairstylist, and John, a truck driver, acknowledge that they couldn’t manage financially without this assistance.

“It was really hard to ask for help and let people in at a really vulnerable moment but people kept saying to me: ‘That’s why we donated to Red Cross, so there is help available when you really need it’,” says Mona.

The couple’s original home was built in 1910 in Calgary’s Erlton neighbourhood. But floodwaters crumbled the foundation and rose above the main floor. They lost almost everything, from furnishings to supplies for Mona’s home-based jewellery design business.

They said goodbye to that home in February with a “demolition party,” serving hot chocolate and donuts to Red Cross staff and others who helped them after the floods. Now as summer begins, the couple is watching their garden sprout in unlikely places, applying for building permits and hoping construction can start soon, says Mona.

“Red Cross has just been great. They helped us again recently and when the house is built, we’ll be having another thank-you party!”