CALGARY- As the anniversary of the devastating June floods approaches, researchers are taking a closer look at those who fled their homes—and those who stayed behind.
Tim Haney, an associate professor of sociology at MRU, studies disasters in places like New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. He now has his sights set on the aftermath of the Calgary flood, in hopes of learning more about why people made the decisions they made.
“In almost every other disaster, you’ll find that families will only evacuate once everyone is together, assembled. Then, everyone leaves in one vehicle together,” he explains. “Katrina was very much not like that, and we’re going to be able to find out how the Calgary evacuation happened.”
Tim Nourse is one of the evacuees who split up from his family when the waters began to rise. His wife escaped their Bowness home ahead of the flood, while Nourse stayed behind to save what he could.
“I had enough stuff in the basement to pull up, that by the time I was ready to leave it was too late,” he recalls. “The truck wouldn’t have been able to get out.”
He spent the next week stranded in the top level of the house with the family cat.
“I treated it as an experience, and in sort of a weird way it was interesting.”
It was a similar scene as the water rose in Rideau, but resident Rob McKay refused to be deterred by the danger.
“I just want to see the condition of the house and want to see whether it’s on the second floor or not,” he told Global News at the time. “I want to make sure no one else has been in there with plastic bags before me.”
There were 450 emergency calls for rescues during the first 24 hours of the flood, so Haney wants to try and find out what motivated people to stay in their homes.
His data collection should be finished by September, and he hopes to have that compiled into a full report sometime in the next three years.