For children in the hamlet of
Exshaw, a Bow Valley community
of 400 about 90 kilometres west of
Calgary, the effects of the flood of
2013 still linger.
“The long-term stress for kids came
later when they had to stay in flood
housing instead of going back to
their own home. And as they became
aware that their books were gone,
their clothes were gone and their toys
were gone. At that point they really
felt the stress,” says Exshaw librarian
Two years later, some Exshaw
families are still living in temporary
“The aftermath of this flood has
been so lengthy for some families.
That is the damaging part of it; if you
had been in a disaster and things had
been cleaned up and you were back
on your feet three months later, it
would be fine,” says Reid.
But she still sees the effects of the
flood in the community and worries
about the long-term effects on the
residents of the town she loves.
When stress is ongoing and
unrelenting, it can become toxic.
Toxic stress is never good, but
in children it can affect brain
development and overall lifelong
Drs. Julie Drolet, associate
professor in the Faculty of Social
Work at the University of Calgary,
Robin Cox of the School of
Humanitarian Studies at Royal
Roads University and Caroline
McDonald-Harker of Mount Royal
University’s Department of Sociology
and Anthropology share those
concerns. The researchers want to
better understand how to build
resilient communities where people
can recover from disaster and adjust
to change. The flood displaced more
than 100,000 people across southern
Alberta and caused $6 billion in
Communities (ARC) project. Alberta
Innovates – Health Solutions has
provided $1.06 million to support the
project over the next three years.
“We know that children and
youth can be resilient, but they can
also face challenges,” Drolet says.
Working with 29 partners, ARC
will look at services that build
resilience in children and youth, and
seek to improve those programs.
Resilience is the ability to bounce
back in the face of adversity (see story
on page 24).
Drolet says learning from the
flood is important, given that natural
disasters are increasing in a changing
“We want to foster and build
community awareness within
households and communities to be
better prepared to respond in the
— Rob Alexander
We want to be better
prepared to respond in
Drolet, Cox and McDonald-Harker
have received funding to look at the
effects of the flood on children and
youth through the Alberta Resilient
Searching for ways to build
The Alberta Resilient Communities project will research how children were affected by
the 2013 flood.