High River residents Angela Piovesana and Amanda Pawlitzki will be blogging over the summer about their experiences during and after the floods that hit southern Alberta.
They'll tell stories of the recovery through the eyes of people who live there.
There were two funerals for victims of the High River, Alta., flood held on the afternoon of July 2.
Jacqui Brocklebank was a friend of mine and Dominic Pearce was the father of my friends’ son Noah Greencorn.
I chose to pay my respects to Brocklebank but my thoughts were also with the 11-year-old and his mother, Reene Greencorn.
The funerals were held the day after I was allowed to return to my business and the day I met with the insurance adjuster. Covered in mud, I rushed from my store to clean up before going to pay my respects.
Weeks later, I had the opportunity to visit with Greencorn. She and Noah had moved to Nova Scotia a few years ago. Pearce had stayed to work in the oil patch, but he had remained dear friends with Greencorn.
I knew Pearce had been taken in the flood, but not much else. As we talked over coffee, Greencorn told me what she knew of his death.
On the Tuesday before the flood, Pearce had called to see how they were and chat before he was scheduled to leave for work that Friday.
Plans were made. The school year almost over, and Noah and his mother would visit Alberta in July. Pearce was planning to take Noah fishing in Newfoundland in August for his birthday.
The flood that Thursday caught everyone off guard, but Pearce and others on the west side of town had even less warning. Not knowing how high the water would get, Pearce and friends Sean and Fish opted to set course for higher ground. We now know if they stayed put they may have been fine.
The trio found a boat, and Pearce and Sean, both born on the East Coast, felt confident and at home on the water. They made it past Centre Street from Sean’s home on the west side of town and were making their way east.
Almost at safe ground, their boat capsized in the tumultuous waves and they found themselves in ice cold water. They were able to flip the boat and pull themselves back in, only to have the boat capsize again moments later.
Pearce lost his grip, the current sweeping him in another direction. That was the last time he would be seen alive.
Sean stayed with the boat and Fish clung on to the top of a submerged truck for hours.
Finally another boat came and the two were taken to an evacuation centre to be treated for hypothermia. They insisted they search for Pearce, telling rescue workers which direction he had been swept away.
Pearce’s body was found far from the banks of the Highwood River, east of Centre Street, the next day.
He had come to rest in the same place as Brocklebank, who was also swept away by the floodwaters when trying to help a friend.
Greencorn and Noah arrived in Alberta a week later. Tearing up, she tells me Noah still wants to go to Newfoundland in August.
"Not next August, not for Christmas — this August, just as Dad and I had planned," said Noah.
Pearce was born in Newfoundland, the second oldest of 15 kids — many who still live there. Noah said he wants to bring his daddy home.