Gateway Gazette

“On June 20th, 2013, everything changed ….”

It’s DONE! and ready to be launched!

“Stories of the High River Flood” book will be launched on Thursday, November 27 from 3 p.m.to 7 p.m. at the Museum of the Highwood in downtown High River, Alberta.

Stories of the HR Flood book coverThe beautifully bound dark, leather-like book, 12”x 8 ¾”, with copper foiled title, is filled with recollections of the harrowing experiences that High River and the M.D. of Foothills residents went through on June 20th, 2013 and in the days and months following.

The damage was devastating and memories of the summer of 2013 will live on in infamy through this 296 page collection of stories that tell of perseverance, resiliency and hope.

A dedicated committee, some of whom lost their own homes, worked together to collect the details of the lives of the people who survived one of Canada’s worst natural disasters. There were 60 dedicated volunteers that helped collect the stories and have been involved in the project in one form or other. Many of these volunteers sat at businesses and events around the community so the residents could come and share their stories and have them written down and recorded for the book.

Jane Russell - PhotographerOne of the original committee members, High River resident Jane Russell has worked tirelessly on compiling and archiving the history of June 20, 2013 through 237 personal stories and 400 photographs.

Russell has been a resident of High River since 1975. For 25 years, her home was in Wallaceville; an area of High River that was affected the worst by the raging Highwood River. She has cleaned up after 10 high water incidents in the time she and her husband have lived in Wallaceville but there was no cleaning up after 2013. Russell is rebuilding and continues to live and work in High River.

“When the stories first came in, I couldn’t read them. It took a month to look at them and once I started to go through them, it made me realize everybody was suffering like I was. It wasn’t until I had to proof and edit the book, reading each personal story, that it really hit me and it was truly an emotional time for me; I cried a lot for the first week. Then I had a resurgence after that. I felt it was important to get their stories, and mine, out,” explained Russell. “When people sent their stories in, they thanked us. They were so thankful that we gave them this opportunity to tell their story, it helped them get their story out, helped them get over it and to let the healing begin.”

A graphic designer and photographer, Russell had planned to complete the layout of the book herself, but when she realized the hundreds of tasks and hours involved in a large project like this, she hired Routes Media in High River to edit and layout the pages so the committee could meet their press deadline. Russell found looking at everybody’s photos was also hard for her.

“I saw what happened in other parts of High River on June 20th that I didn’t know about; like the photo of the submerged vehicles on Veteran’s Way or the combine rescue from the Co-op. The book has photos from every corner of the community and some from the M.D. of Foothills.”

Russell also designed the cover.

“I really wanted to make it a nice looking keepsake, a proper history book. I added a few blank pages in the back of the book so people could write their own personal story or paste in their own photos. They can pass this book on to their grandchildren.”

On Thursday, November 27, come to the Museum of the Highwood to hear first-hand accounts from the survivors as they read their ordeals from the book. You can witness, through photos, the Flood of 2013 as the Highwood River sent a 10-foot wall of water through the community and the clean up after.

stories-of-the-high-river-floodThis limited edition keepsake is available for $39.95. Only 2,500 books were printed. The books will be available for pick-up on Monday, December 1 from the Sun Life office in High River.

All proceeds from the sale of “Stories of the High River Flood”  will be donated to help the community’s charities recover from the flood; High River Hospital Cancer Clinic, High River Fire Department, Literacy for Life, Meals on Wheels and Senior’s fitness.

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