Reporter Reid Fiest spent many hours at Calgary’s Emergency Operations Centre – command central for the city during the June floods in 2013. His assignment – to keep Calgarians up to date on the numerous daily briefings by Mayor Nenshi and emergency officials.
He reflects back on his experience:
Calgary’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) had only been up and running for a few months, when it was put to the test in a disaster that no one could have predicted.
I live nearby the EOC, but had never gone inside the high- tech facility until the early hours of Friday, June 21, 2013.
My photographers, Loren Andreae and Tim Lee, arrived around 3 a.m. for our first briefing on the flood from the Mayor.
Naheed Nenshi had been in Ottawa, and had arrived in Calgary late Thursday night. He immediately toured the city to view the devastation before updating Calgarians on the city’s response.
In the days that followed, those briefings happened many times a day, and were valuable sources of information for Calgarians, whether or not they were directly affected by the floods.
The regular updates included information about the evacuation of as many as 100,000 Calgarians, and then the slow return to their homes.
The Prime Minister and Premier were also regulars at the EOC, along with many other agencies responding to the emergency.
The Emergency Operations Centre is one of the most advanced facilities I’ve ever seen.
A massive control room sits below ground, where every important agency has a crucial role to play. Nearby, there’s a back-up 911 call centre if the city’s other main facility goes down.
While many of us will never get to see the EOC up close, we can all be confident it can be activated at a moment’s notice to deal with almost any disaster to keep Calgarians safe,