What city and province is doing to prepare for a potential disaster

Flood2013With the upcoming anniversary of the June 2013 flood, tensions may be rising in anticipation of another disaster.

Parts of Calgary are still in repair, buildings are still damaged and the city is still rattled from last year's flood.

But the city is also getting prepared.

Here is what the City of Calgary and the Alberta government are doing to mitigate another disaster.

Christine Arthurs, manager of Flood Recovery Operations for Calgary, says the city's main concern is keeping residents safe.

"Our top priority for the flood season is protection of citizens. We have purchased extra response equipment from money provided to us from the province in order to be able to react effectively if we are faced with a flood again," said Arthurs.

"We have been doing a lot of mitigation projects already, but people have to realize that some projects take time and planning and many things can't happen overnight," said Arthurs. "We want to be responsible and thoughtful in planning these projects."

Currently, the city is working to complete 30 high priority projects that include additional protection for private infrastructure, storm drainage upgrades, improvements for water intake and upgrades to erosion sites around riverbanks.

Erosion copyThe City of Calgary has made it an important goal to repair six critical sites that were damaged by the June 2013 flood. Four of those sites have been repaired. This flood erosion site along the Bow River, next to the community of Douglasdale, is expected to be complete before the 2014 spring flood season begins.

Photo by Quinton Amundson/CalgaryJournal
The city has also held public awareness workshops and released informational videos detailing efforts in flood recovery and participation.

Topics covering river monitoring efforts plus interviews with Mayor Naheed Nenshi on what the city is doing to limit future flooding can be found on the city's website: calgary.ca.

In the event of another flood, the city has a plan that includes deploying temporary barriers such as berms and sandbags at critical locations.

There will also be an attempt to manage the flow from the Glenmore reservoir, and where available, to close gates on stormwater outfalls preventing river water from entering the storm sewer system.

What the Province is doing:

With the introduction of Bill 27 on Oct. 28, the Alberta government aimed to lessen flood damage in the case of another massive flood.

The bill outlined seven amendments to the Municipal Government Act and the Emergency Management Act. They include a ban on future developments in floodways, increased funding for mitigation efforts, and an increase in the provincial state of emergency from 14 days to 28 before they expire or need to be renewed.

The province released on its website — alberta.ca/floodpreparedness — a summary of what mitigation projects they are currently working on.

This included a dedicated $216 million for erosion control projects throughout Alberta, all of which should be completed by 2015, though many are already underway.

DouglasDaleThe City of Calgary has made it an important goal to repair six critical sites that were damaged by the June 2013 flood. Four of those sites have been repaired. This flood erosion site along the Bow River, next to the community of Douglasdale, is expected to be complete before the 2014 spring flood season begins.

Photo by Quinton Amundson/CalgaryJournal
The Flood Recovery Erosion Control Program has been implemented, which includes bank stabilization, and the use of dykes and berms.

Several projects to upgrade critical water management infrastructure are also in the process of being designed and reviewed.

The Calgary Underground Diversion Study is one of these major projects. The study will determine the feasibility of diverting floodwater underground, along 58th Avenue from the Glenmore reservoir to the Bow River.

The project is currently waiting for environmental screening and community consultations.

Alberta has also approved $8.7 million to update flood hazard mapping, a tool used to develop more accurate predictions of the course of floodwater.

Accelerated mapping of new areas and updating the maps of high-risk communities are top priorities for the province and a review of this system is expected in the upcoming months.

What you can do:

While the city and province have put into place many mitigation and preparation strategies, residents should always be prepared.

Here are some things people can do to remain safe.

Stay in touch: follow the Alberta Emergency Alert  site on Twitter and Facebook, watch the news, keep in touch with your community.

Have a plan: know where you will go if you must evacuate, update phone numbers for loved ones, understand the evacuation routes and always have a backup plan.

Practice the plan: ensure it works and identify any changes that need to be addressed.

Have a 72-hour Kit.

Checklist: when you only have a few minutes to evacuate, know what you are going to bring.

Stay safe, informed and up-to-date with what's going on.

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