Life After the Flood

On June 20, Kourtney Rylands officially became a homeowner for the first time finalizing the purchase of a condo in Mission. Hours later her new condo, furniture and many of her belongings would be submerged in more than five feet of water.

“It looked like a storm went through,” she said of seeing her home for the first time after the flood. “It ripped the cabinets off the walls, it took my island and put it vertical, the beds were upside down — I don’t know how that happened, they must of floated and flipped over or something.

“It was chaos. There’s some stuff I didn’t even find, it wasn’t even there to clean or throw out, it was just gone.”

The Elbow River, which flows just east of Rylands’ building, peaked at 1,240 metres cubed per second, 12 times the regular rate and more than three times as fast as the flood of 2005. Combined with the Bow River, which also peaked at more than three times the rate when compared to 2005, more than two dozen Calgary communities were evacuated.

“The whole idea of an evacuation was foreign and I found out at about 2:45 p.m. that we were supposed to be out at three,” said Rylands. “I just happened to find out because my office manager saw something online. I don’t know if I would have been able to get anything if someone hadn’t told me, no one knew. So I just raced (home) and grabbed a bag for my roommate and I.”

As for her next steps Rylands, said she feels as if she’s in “limbo”. She made her first mortgage payment on a condo that “didn’t exist anymore” from her parents basement where she’s staying until renovations are completed.

Whereas some renters and homeowners are having trouble communicating with their landlords and condo boards, Rylands said she’s lucky in the sense her condo is a corporation and has insurance.

“I have a good condo management company so at least there was someone who’s herding the cats and saying ‘you need to do this’.” Along with about 30 volunteers, Rylands demolished the entire lower floor of her building so there’s only concrete remaining.

“It’s therapeutic to go through but when you take an ax to all your brand new furniture because I’d been saving up for so long … all the stuff you pour your heart and soul into because it’s my first place, and just even the prospect of having to go out and do it again is exhausting.”

As for insurance, at this point Rylands has “no idea” if she’ll get a payout from her insurance company and has been told it will be a minimum three months until she can return home.

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