Just over one month ago, Julia Janicki, fiance Alex Moyer, their baby Fiona and cat Bruce were evacuated from their home in Hay River that was in the path of May flooding.

They were separated by the circumstances.

Janicki, Fiona, and Bruce went to Fort Smith and stayed with friends while Moyer stayed behind to work at Hay River’s hospital.

They are now reunited in Hay River, minus Bruce, who is staying with family friends until the end of June while they calculate the damage caused by the floods, and the separation.

“We reunited on May 29, over two weeks since the evacuation. I flew back with Fiona on an 11-hour travel day,” said Janicki. “I was nervous that after being away for so long and seeing so many different people, Fiona may be distant around Alex. But as soon as she saw him when he picked us up at the Hay River airport it was like no time had passed. She was so excited to be reunited with her daddy. I was also excited to be reunited, of course.”

They returned to the basement suite they rented on Riverview Drive that flooded all the way up to the windows.

“Coming home was hard. My landlord took me downstairs to see what remained of our place. It was surreal seeing the entire place as a shell of house, just studs and concrete when the last time I saw it it was perfectly intact, normal. It reminded me of that scene in the Titanic where they show images of how it looks in present time and then show flashbacks of what it looked like in its glory,” said Janicki.

“I looked at the space in the far corner, stripped of the drywall, insulation and the flooring, still muggy and dank despite two weeks of restoration. And I had flashbacks to putting Fiona in her crib or playing with the starry mobile above the change table. All of that is gone. It made me sad going back into the space as the reality of what I lost started to really sink in.”

Janicki wasn’t there for the cleanup, which was completed by volunteers, friends, the fire department, their landlords, and Moyer — who was still working full-time and on call 24/7.

“They worked their butts off,” said Janicki. “My biggest takeaway was the unbelievable generosity we received and how humbling it was to accept this help. In addition to the crews of people who helped clean our home, we had friends in town who helped with laundry, storage of belongings and childcare. My friends and brother in Calgary inundated Fiona and I with donations. We were truly spoiled by what they offered us.”

Janicki added that even “total strangers” offered their support.

“Sometimes I forget this but people are kind of amazing,” she said.

At the end of the month, the family will collect Bruce and head to to Regina to their new home.

Although they haven’t received word from their assessors, Janicki estimates they lost more than $10,000 of household items.

“It was overwhelming coming home and sorting through what had been salvaged, realizing a lot of it would have to go. But one of my biggest surprises was that my grandmother’s paintings were mostly fine,” she said, a

“After the evacuation all I could think about was the state of her artwork. Everything else could be replaced. I’d made peace with the fact that I’d have to say goodbye to these paintings.”

When she came home, she discovered that although the frames were destroyed, the artwork itself was unharmed.

“I was beyond relieved. It almost felt like she was sending me one last gift.”

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