After the flood: You saved Sunnyhill


Written Thursday, June 27, 11:30 p.m.

We saved Sunnyhill.

YOU saved Sunnyhill.

As Sean and I were stumbling home through the mostly-debris-free streets of Sunnyside today–we finally knew this. It was going to be all right. You saved Sunnyhill. Our co-op, our homes–they’re all going to be fine.

They look awful right now, don’t they? For most of our people, today was the hardest day. I’m not sure I talked with anyone today who didn’t at some point have a complete breakdown and cry. Myself, I curled up in the fetal position on a chair in the middle of the “command centre” and just let tears streak out of me for about 20 minutes. And they’re coming again as I write.

But–we did it. We saved Sunnyhill. We’re out of crisis. Volunteer crews: for tomorrow, on our “must be done list,” we have one unit to bleach and fungle (it’s a new word; one of our volunteers coined, ain’t it a beaut), five to fungle (spray with mold preventer), and a couple of concrete shed floors to sweep and bleach.

It’s Thursday. A week ago Thursday, we evacuated.

On Friday, we woke up to news and photographs that made us think our homes were gone.

On Saturday, we stood on the bluff and wept. And violated evacuation orders to get closer, to see what the heck was going on.

On Sunday, some of us were climbing in through windows and balconies in vain attempts to salvage something–anything–from the deluges that were our ground floors.

On Monday, we went back.

Four days later, with 38 units to completely rehabilitate, we were slapping “Done” stickers on most of their doors.

This is what “done” means: thoroughly gutted, stripped, scraped. Stairs, in some cases, partially ripped out. Bleached and “fungled,” Fans running, howling. Ugly, oh god, so ugly.

But. Safe. We beat the clock. We beat the mold. We chased back the decay.

We have multiple fans in every room. Dehumidifiers going in several units.

All from you.

We have a mountain of supplies–all from you–which we will be passing on to communities still in crisis mode.

And we have–oh, I don’t even know how to express it–we are so blown away by what you have done for us. What this city’s people are doing for each other. What friends are doing for friends, and neighbours for neighbours, and strangers for strangers.

We will be moving back home soon, so soon. So much sooner than we dreamed would be possible.

And yeah, Sunnyhill ain’t pretty at the moment. Each unit ravaged, full of holes. Tarped salvaged possessions in backyards or balconies. Mud, mud everywhere, in entryways, on doors, on bushes, fences.

And it’s never been more beautiful. You saved it. You saved Sunnyhill.

We’re going home.

And you know what’s happening on Saturday?

FIREPIT. On the Common. Biggest. Firepit. Party. Ever.

In the meantime–I’m taking tomorrow totally off. Spending it holding my kids. And maybe napping. We’ll still have crews on-site bleaching and “fungling” the last few units, and if you want to drop in for an hour or two, we will put you to work. But you know other parts of the city need you more now. Feed them. Save them.

What does Sunnyhill need for Friday, June 28? A couple bottles of anti-fungal spray. A morning coffee delivery. Dinner for our people and others working in East Sunnyside. A slower paced, less urgent day, in which our focus shifts from saving our homes–to reclaiming them. We will be cleaning. Looking under those tarps and washing down the few things we saved from the flood. Making plans for what we need to do next–how we rebuild our damaged structures.

Probably bawling. Cause, you know. The adrenaline’s receding. And we’re very tired.

But we did it. You did it.

 You saved Sunnyhill.

Photos from Day 4 of Clean Up are on my personal Facebook page, public so all you beautiful people can see what you’ve done.