BY GARRETT HINCHEY
Canada’s prairies are flooding. Again.
It’s actually been a pretty wild week, weather-wise, across the country. In the east, Maritimers are coping with the impact of tropical storm Arthur, while up north, one of the worst wildfire seasons in history has left Northwest Territories residents unable to drive on the highways, trapped under a deluge of ash.
For many Canadians, the elements are a fleeting mention on the news—a “Did you hear about that?” moment, a “Man, I’m glad that’s not us” blip in the conversation. But for those living through them, their effects can not only be devastating at the point of impact, but profound and prolonged through time. It’s easy to think of a flood rapidly expanding spatially, but its temporal impact is far slower—and, often, far less in the public eye.
Last year, Alberta dealt with the immediate impacts of a disastrous flood. WORST writer Matt Meuse, a Calgary native, saw these firsthand as the waters surged through his hometown. But now, a year later, the lasting consequences of the flood in Calgary—one of Canada’s largest cities—barely warrant a passing mention. In the many smaller towns and cities that dot the Albertan landscape, the news cycle has abandoned them entirely.
It’s in that spirit that Matt wrote “The New Normal,” a look at the repercussions of the 2013 floods, one year out, in High River, Alberta. With a population of just under thirteen thousand, High River was hit as hard by the floods as anywhere else in the region. After the water receded, however, the town found itself profoundly changed. A year later, many of those changes still remain, even if the flood waters are long gone.
“The New Normal,” which Matt completed while at UBC’s School of Journalism, will be one of the first pieces of long-form journalism that we feature on our site when WORST launches in September. It’s a poignant look at what we don’t see once the news cameras have swept out with the natural disaster du jour, and a troubling warning for the future as we grapple with the impacts of climate change.
Above all, though, it’s excellent, thoughtful long-form journalism. Our tagline is “required reading for the worst generation.” “The New Normal” is required reading for everyone.