Hidden Valley – Re-entry

There’s no such thing as a 100-year flood.
– Andrew Cuomo –

Our Cabin before the flood – of 2013 …  after being rebuilt by the previous owners after the floods of 1995 and 2005.

Our place after the flood. The cabin was lifted by the water,  rotated almost 90 degrees, and then set back down in a different location.

The front of the cabin – the sunroom was torn off, leaving only its roof.

The back of the cabin came to rest against one of the outbuildings in the neighbour’s yard. The blue bench in the foreground of this photo was part of the deck that was attached to the back of our cabin. This deck is now on the far side of the neighbour’s yard. There is a row of flat rocks on the top rail of this blue bench – I put the rocks there, and they did not move though the deck floated more than 60 feet and turned a full 180 degrees. (We’ll rescue the rocks!)

The same deck as above, other side of it – four bicycles, two fell off the bench, but all of them stayed fairly high and dry. In the background, the hot tub – it started off next to this deck, but on the opposite corner.

The upended shed – this boot and the tin of pop were in the shed – which was padlocked. The shed door is open now, but we don’t know what is in it because it is too high off the ground to see inside.

The Car Guy and his dad made these little tables. There were ten of them, and we found five of them in our yard!

The inside of the cabin – kitchen to the left, living room to the right. The only thing we salvaged was the big ceramic bowl on the floor in the foreground of this photo.  It had a bit of mud on the bottom edge, but was absolutely clean otherwise.

Black colored mold is forming on many surfaces. The loft room upstairs is dry, but I don’t think we’ll salvage more than a few things from there. The mold is starting to creep up into areas that are not water damaged. Everything upstairs is exactly as I left it – even the piles of books on the dresser didn’t move.

The little putting green by the clubhouse – a small forest of trees are already starting to claim the land – and it has only been three and a half weeks since the flood!

It felt very strange to be so sad about my cabin, yet so cheered that the little piece of land that my cabin sat on was still a beautiful wooded paradise. At the front of the lot, the bulldozer had roughly scraped away a driveway, but at the back, the saskatoons were heavy with fruit. The familiar old trees that were growing nearly parallel to the ground – they had been chopped down. But the tall old poplars that threatened to fall on the cabin – they were still standing. The birds were singing, and all my neighbours were in their yards and houses, right where they would have been if this had been a normal day. It was so oddly reassuring.

On the drive home I said to The Car Guy – just suppose someone waved a magic wand and said – here is a new lease, we have a new utility system – please come back. I started to picture where I would put a house this time. I thought about how we would build a cabin that would float like a houseboat. People who don’t know better would say, “Why would you build on this flood plain again!” And I would smile and say, “You don’t understand what it means to ‘love a piece of land’. You don’t understand what ties a group of people to a place. ” Instead of moving off the flood plain, maybe a better solution is to figure out what is the best way to live on a flood plain.

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach –

24 thoughts on “Hidden Valley – Re-entry

  1. Wow, this has been quite the journey that you and Car Guy have been on. Thank you for sharing all that you have been through and for finishing up with these pictures. I can only imagine how you and your neighbours are feeling. We don’t have to worry about a flood taking our cabin – we sit high up on a rock – but we fully realize that Mother Nature could very easily take us out by fire. Take care and know that friends are thinking of you. Ev


  2. The photos are incredible!! We had no idea you had so much damage – you must be devastated. What are your plans now? I knew your lease was coming to an end but this was a brutal way to end things. Take care and we will talk soon


    1. Thanks K&J. Yes, the lease expired at the end of October, but we were all looking forward to having one last wonderful summer before everyone scattered. We had arranged to move our cabin out and had several options in mind for either selling it, or buying some property to put it on.
      Our whole community is in limbo now. The logistics for winding down a place with 305 families who have lost everything – huge task!


  3. OMG – all the pictures we’ve been seeing of the community have been from a distance, but these pictures really bring home the personal loss that you must be feeling. Not just for the cabin, but for the memories that would have been made with your kids, grandkids and family and friends for “one last summer” this year.


    1. We are so fortunate that we did not lose our Primary residence. When the family descended for “Summer at the Cabin” we were able to find beds for them all here at the Red House, though it took 2 RV’s on the parking pad to accommodate them all. We got ‘Red House Greens’ up and running again so that we could golf – had to create 3 new holes to replace the ones that were lost when the new septic field was installed. It wasn’t the same as being at the cabin, but we will figure out new ways to do the ‘good old things’!


  4. Poor cabin. Such a loss. But I love the way you think in terms of this being an opportunity to find a better way to live in an area you’ve grown to love.


    1. This flood in Alberta has so many people, including many layers of Government, calling for people to move off the flood plain. The biggest problem with this, is that many of the areas that were flooded never used to be on the flood plain.

      Our cabin was built on a flood plain, though the developer (the Siksika Nation) didn’t choose to explain that to the people that first leased the land from them. There was no flooding there at all for 20 years, then a small flood, then no more flooding for 10 years. After the flood of 2005, a large berm was built – a berm that would have stopped any of the floods from the previous 30 years.

      This flood – it washed over areas that no one ever dreamed would get flooded. How do you define a flood plain if you don’t have a crystal ball!


  5. I’m amazed that you rebuilt your cabin twice after 2 floods before 2013.

    I find the whole thing what current prov. govn’t wants to corner people that they shouldn’t have bought on a flood plain, flood fringe, etc.,: the reality is I wonder in the first place if the consumer would know which reliable expertise they can get to give an opinion.

    Meanwhile we have greedy developers, building near the river in Calgary. They don’t care.


    1. Fortunately, I didn’t have to rebuild the cabin – the previous owners did.
      This whole flood plain business is interesting. Clearly this new flood plain is far larger than any of the old ones were, and how do you relocate the homes and businesses of 100,000 people and much of downtown Calgary!?


      1. We were looking at the province’s floodplain/floodway map that’s been published in the news for past few days. It’s a bit dated, because it doesn’t reflect a brand new pedestrian-bike bridge..same bridge where the flood water levels nearly rose up to its floor. But anyway it did flood a lot near it… I’m sure there are other interesting anomalies.


        1. From what I am reading, many new water channels have been formed and what we know about traditional flood plains has changed. So I agree, it is all going to be interesting!


  6. I’m really sorry about the loss of the cabin and the community. You seem to be handling it well, though I’m sure you have some hard moments. I hope you can rebuild but do you think it’s possible?


    1. Thanks for your sympathy. Flood victims don’t garner all that much support from taxpayers.
      There are a number of cabin owners who aren’t on Facebook. They have depended on my blog for information. Writing about the flood like a reporter, rather than a victim, has allowed me to look at it more objectively, I guess.
      The community won’t be rebuilt because there isn’t enough time left on our lease to make it feasible. We might have tried to salvage our cabin if there had been a new lease, but the cost to just move it off the land, then rebuild it – not financially practical.


  7. I love your attitude, not to leave the floodplain, but to learn how to live in it :). With rising sea levels, it is something that the whole world will need to consider soon, they can’t all just move!


  8. What a sad sight. I’m so sorry to read this, and to see the incredible before and after pictures. So very sorry for your loss — I imagine it feels like you’ve lost a friend.


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