• Reminder we are vulnerable to nature’s whims.

    It was late on Friday afternoon, and my neighbour Deborah, having just collected her grandson from daycare, noticed darkness looming in the sky.

    A storm had been predicted and she picked up the pace, pushing her grandson’s stroller just a little more hastily as clouds gathered overhead.

    By the time she made it the few short blocks from the daycare centre to our townhouse complex, the heavens opened, and heavy rain, followed by an onslaught of hail, teemed into the streets.

    Puddles quickly turned into ponds and within minutes a river of water rushed downhill. Icy hail clogged the storm sewers and with water levels rising, Deb sprang into action with shovels and squeegee.

    Despite her efforts, the storm drains failed, and her garage and basement flooded, the ferocious rainwater carving trenches into the gravel surrounding our complex. The assault continued for nearly three hours.

    Meanwhile, hubby and I, having decided to have a weekend getaway, sat on an elegant patio sipping on cold beverages in the sunshine less than an hour away. Even though we had remained in the region, we were blissfully unaware of the storm cell battering our Maple Ridge neighbourhood.

    The severe storm caused widespread damage, including the evacuation of a homeless camp, and the flooding of private homes, apartment buildings and a senior’s centre.

    Google alerted us to the events that had occurred in our community while we were away. A quick check-in with one of our neighbours confirmed that our complex had been hit hard. We cut our trip short and headed home, fearing the worst.

    As we neared our neighbourhood, the severity of the storm’s impact became apparent. Branches, leaves, gravel, and mud clogged the street below our home. Soft-leafed plants like hydrangeas, roses, and hostas were shredded. Around our building piles of dirty hail, rimed with the moss and debris scoured from our roof, sat unmelted.

    We were lucky. The path cut by the raging water had swerved away from our unit. Relieved, we took a walk through our house only to see the valiant Deborah, on our back deck, clad in rain gear, power hose in hand, clearing the debris. She had spent the morning, first swabbing up the floodwaters from her own garage and basement, and then proceeding to sweep, wash, and rake up the shambles surrounding the entire complex.

    Compared to many natural disasters, this one was relatively minor. But it did remind us that we are vulnerable to nature’s whims.

    Our hardworking and generous neighbour reminded us that we are in this together. An angel in a yellow slicker, her swift action no doubt prevented further damage to our common property and proved, once more, the value of community.

    Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article first appeared in the Maple Ridge News.