Remembering the Flood of 2013 with Tianna Hartford

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We caught up with Tianna Hartford for a latte' at our coffeehouse to discuss her experience with the flood. As a young woman just graduating from high school, we were interested in hearing her perspective and growth from the flood that summer in 2013. 

Tianna, aged 17, was attending high school in Okotoks at the time of the flood. She was graduating and was just two weeks from the big Grad day, when her family's home was engulfed in water.

"It was an intense day, but everyone was doing their best to control the uncontrollable. I had my 14 year brother with me and we didn't know where my mom was yet, but I had to just worry about my brother and I. We ended up asking a friend of mine to help me drive my moms van through the flooded area to get out of the water. He had a big truck, so I just followed closely behind him and drove through the waded water with my brother. We ended up seeing my mom drive past us, smiling and waving. So I knew that everyone in my family was atleast okay. There was no service and we couldn't find my other brother. We heard rumours about some teens passing away in the water and were so worried, but luckily that wasn't true and we did locate my brother at his friends house. " Tianna explains.  

Tianna and her younger brother were at the rec centre just trying to help people get something to eat and drink. Tianna's mother was helping sandbag the town. They stayed at the rec centre until that began to flood and took refuge in the Boston Pizza for a while, until they had to go. 

Because there wasn't many places for Tianna and her family to go and stay together with the 5 of them, Tianna stayed with some of her friends in Okotoks. Her brother and mom stayed on a farm outside of High River, my other brother stayed with his friends, and her father stayed at his job. 

Tianna and her mom were in Calgary shopping for cleaning supplies to get ready to return to her home and clean it out when her mother got the call that their house was marked "RED" and they wouldn't be able to return to their home to live, as it was considered dangerous. Her mother began crying in the store. A random person offered to purchase all of their belongings and even gave them a $100 gift card to Wal-Mart to further help Tianna's family in this time of need. Tianna recalls, "There were mascara marks on this guys shirt from her mom thanking him with a hug." 

 
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Tianna and her family returned to their home to see what was left and what they have to do next. Insurance wouldn't cover their home or the clean out because it was deemed "red" and therefore the Hartfords had to rely on help from their friends and family to clean out their home. Some people would go in and help carry things out and others would wait outside the house and they'd be handed items from their home. A friend offered to deep clean the whole upstairs and really helped and even their grandmother came down to help take care of dogs while they were awaiting for life to return to a new normal. They lost everything in their basement, including the old pictures of their family. Luckily, someone took all of the photos and took pictures of them once dried, and put them on a disk for Tianna's mother, so they weren't able to keep some of the photos! 

Western Feedlots supplied food, drinks, dump trucks, and bob cats to assist her family during the clean out process. 

It took about two weeks for her mother and father to be able to stay together, and about a month for Tianna and her little brother to get back home, and then a couple of months for her other brother to come home. 

So what did Tianna learn from all of this as a young woman in High River during that time? 

Tianna says she learned a few things, that we should "Be nice and help. Be kind and humble because you have no idea what people are going through. We all just helped each other as a town. It was sad that such a bad experience had to happen to find that we were a community all along."

She went further to say that Mayor Snodgrass has done a lot to make sure people feel safe in High River. He is on social media and is present a lot and shows that he really cares for us. Tianna says,"I'm just happy to see the town thriving again and to see a lot of young families coming back and that the flood didn't scare everyone away. For so long, it was the burden of everything, and now new comers move here and are like, 'what flood?' and I think, YES!" 

If you would like to remember your flood experience with us, contact Dani at hellocolossiscoffeehouse@gmail.com.