With raging waters flooding into Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Friday, June 21, came a flood of social media mentions of the disaster.Over 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate from more than 25 communities in southern Alberta due to this devastating flooding. Many neighborhoods across the region were under declared local state of emergency.
Projections of the damages have placed this tragedy as one of the costliest natural disasters to occur in Alberta’s history. Totals are predicted by BMO Nesbitt Burns to reach 5 billion dollars and it was said by Premier Alison Redford that it could be a 10-year rebuilding effort. Although some evacuees have returned home and a great percentage of the affected areas have since dried up, the social conversations surrounding the events have not.
Since Thursday evening, there have been well over 600,000 social mentions surrounding the flood. These comments have been shared across many social channels including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums, and from supporters in more than 140 countries across the globe.
Twitter saw an outpouring of tweets as residents and onlookers shared photos and videos in real-time as the rest of the country kept a concerned eye and ear to live updates. A first request for volunteers was made on late Sunday evening by the Emergency Operations Centre to meet at McMahon Stadium in the morning to assist with recovery efforts. The message spread across social media and thousands of volunteers showed up ready to get their hands and feet dirty with only a few hours notice.
Safety and recovery efforts have been a primary concern throughout this disaster, including Calgary Police taking to Twitter to actively engage the public’s questions and concerns.
One question that sat in the hearts of Calgarians was whether or not the Calgary Stampede, planned to open on July 5, would go on.
The nicknamed “Greatest outdoor show on Earth” is one of the world’s largest rodeos and spans across 10 days, drawing over 1 million visitors to the city of Calgary. In its 101-year history, Stampede President, Bob Thompson, advised it has never been cancelled, despite two wars and the Great Depression. Thompson passionately announced on Monday that the event would be delivered “come hell or high water” and that the community would rally and “come together in the face of adversity.” The show must go on.
The slogan and hashtags #comehellorhighwater and #hellorhighwater began pouring in with over 1000 mentions within the hour. Supporters encouraged a social spirit of community and volunteerism with use of these and other commonly used hashtags.
Residents and supporters were also concerned for the Calgary Zoo (@calgaryzoo), as it was, too, greatly impacted and required that all animals be moved to higher ground. When we look at the breakdown by gender demographics, it seems the majority of social animal lovers were women.
Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi), has actively engaged with the community on Twitter since the flooding began and the sentiment surrounding his leadership has been overwhelmingly positive.
Canadians and supporters from across the globe are happy to support a resilient Calgary and look forward to the greatest show on Earth, #Stampede101.