The Power of Social Media

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Our region was terribly affected by the flooding in Southern Alberta. Canmore’s Cougar Creek, a dry creek 11 months of the year, flooded destroying more than 40 houses and TransCanada Highway (Highway 1) and evacuating a full neighborhood on the east side of the creek. Everything starts developing on the evening of Wed, June 19th, going well into Saturday. It was scary to see and hard to believe our eyes. But one thing kept us informed and together as a community: social media!

On Thursday, when we were without power on the west side of the creek for a good 12 hours, my phone kept giving me news from a few key pages on Facebook: 106.5 Mountain FM, Town of Canmore, the group Bow Valley Mom Hub and the newly created Bow Valley and Region – Community Clean Up Effort. I was following all of them and, of course, some information was posted repeatedly, and once more by me!, helping us understand what was going on.CougarCreek2

Rob, from 106.5 Mountain FM, was working non-stop for 40 hours or something, just to keep us informed! Outstanding job (as did the workers for the town, police, fire workers, parks staff, Epcor and ATCO Gas staff, the troops, helicopter pilots and so many others). The websites were being updates as well, but nothing like a one-stop place to gather all the info you need. And that’s what Facebook did. Crystal Shimmon, the lady that created the Bow Valley and Region – Community Clean Up Effort explains why she did that in a very emotional post:

A few people have asked me in the past days why and how I’ve devoted so much time and effort to helping others at this time. To be honest… I spent a bit of time thinking about it… but really, I guess the answer is simple: Its because I could, and I can. I’m just one person… and I had a day off… I have a dog named Charlie – a boyfriend named Ben. I’m no different than you… I live in Canmore, but pretty much live paycheque to paycheque. I have a schwap of student loans and a car that is far from paid off. My parents are divorced, my dog has cancer. But I am healthy. I’m strong, and I am so, so happy! I live here because I choose to – I don’t need a lot of money to be happy. I have the mountains, the rivers, I have my dog and amazing friends. Have beautiful food, enough food to eat, and cheap wine to enjoy it with. I might not have a big house, heck- I sure don’t even own a house! But I feel that my life is rich… I’m one of the lucky ones. When there is a need, go for it. Don’t hesitate – don’t over think things or feel that your part won’t help… it will. I promise you that. You are part of your community – look around at what we have accomplished today, yesterday… how far we’ve already come – and what we will continue to do. Every bit helps. I’m just one little person that had a day off. I got home tonight at 9pm, locked myself out and had to scale my balcony to get in… its been one heck of a day. And I’ve loved every minute of it 🙂

CougarCreek1On Sunday, while volunteering for them, I took a few seconds to congratulate her for her initiative and she told me she was expecting a dozen of volunteers… I joined the page when it was at a bit less than 400 likes, on Thursday. Today, Monday, it is over 4,500 and growing! We packed and sent a bunch of useful items to Morley yesterday and they are keeping their eyes open for where they need us and our donations. An impressive response from a town that was suffering as well – and an incredible reach of social media…

We are in recovery mode now. Still raining, but the rainfall warning is over since Saturday. Many lost their homes and everything inside. But we gained a strong and proud-to-be-part-of community. Thank you, Canmore.

(Read a great article on Highline Magazine about Crystal and her efforts: Cleaning up the community)

 

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About Author

Helena Artmann has a bachelor degree in Communications with a vast experience in PR and the online world. Before moving to Canada in 2005, Helena published a variety of articles in Brazilian magazines and websites, mostly about travel, adventure, outdoor, gear, environment and her favourite activities, mountaineer and hot air ballooning. This is her blog: http://helenaartmann.com

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