Living Through a Disaster


Cougar Creek 5 days after the flood

This last week Canmore, Banff, Harvie Heights, Exshaw, Calgary, and a number of other communities experienced the worst flood any of us have ever experienced here. It was like a surreal dream to see the devastation unfold. Many of us were in disbelief as Cougar Creek ripped an ever-widening birth taking decks, hot tubs, and deck furniture in its wake. We continued to watch in horror as it tore at the foundations of resident’s homes along the creek and washed over and through the Trans Canada highway leaving mud, rocks, and trees.

Five days later things are beginning to get better in Canmore. The creek has gone down dramatically. People who were displaced further away from the creek have begun returning home. Others have gotten the news that their homes have been condemned and are trying to figure out how to rebuild their lives.

How do you do that?

Healthy Food

When a disaster or trauma event occurs, it’s really important to focus on taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. That may be the last thing on your mind right now but it’s really, really important. Make sure you’re eating three nutritional meals a day—even if you don’t have an appetite.

Be careful about the amount of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol you’re consuming. Those treats may seem like a good idea in the moment but may add to the stress and anxiety you’re going through instead of easing it. They all may interfere with a restful sleep as well.

Good Sleep

Try to get a good night’s sleep. Burning the candle at both ends is not going to be good for you even in the short or the long run. We can handle things better emotionally and can make better decisions when we’re rested.


Try to get some exercise. Go for a walk, a bike, or a run to get the blood flowing. It’s going to help you feel better even if you don’t think it should be on the list of priorities right now.


Reach out to your friends, family, neighbours, and strangers. It helps so much to discover how phenomenal these communities are and just how much help and support people are willing to give.

Accept the help—even if it’s uncomfortable for you to do so. We all need support in our lives at least some of the time. Does it ever feel good to get a hug, a smile, or a helping hand when we need it!

Give that helping hand if you can. We’re all in this together and we’ll move through it faster if we work together.


Get back into your routine as soon as possible. It may sound ridiculous when you’ve been hit the way we all have, but it’s so important to get some normalcy back into your life. Staying busy prevents you from thinking too much about what’s happened.

Monitor how much news you’re watching about all this. If it’s feeling overwhelming, stop. Watch how much you’re talking about it with others and how much your kids are hearing. If it’s starting to feel like too much, it probably is. Again, getting back into your routine may help.

I imagine over the next few days and weeks we’ll hear lots of feel good stories about the lengths people went to help one another. In the meantime, remember to take care of you!

If You’re Not Coping

If you feel like you’re just not coping well, book an appointment with a therapist. It can be helpful to talk with someone who can normalize what you’re going through and if needed, can offer some professional advice.