Calgary’s flood preparedness plan irks recent flood victims

CALGARY- As concern grows about whether or not Calgary is ready in the event of another major flood, officials provided an update about their preparedness plans heading into the spring melt.

More than 100,000 people were forced from their homes in June 2013, when the Bow and Elbow rivers burst their banks. While it was called the one in 100 year flood event, there are fears the city could see a repeat of the devastation.

“I would estimate that it’s going to be very difficult to protect [homes],” says emergency response director Chief Bruce Burrell.

He’s discouraging people in flood zones from putting up sandbags or temporary berms, saying they could wash away and create barriers that would only worsen the flooding.

“We’re really recommending the same things we’ve recommended every year, which is take your valuables to a higher level, do the things that you can do to protect your property, and be prepared to evacuate.”

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On Wednesday, the city also announced that they’re working on a flood preparation website and informational video series. They also plan to have outdoor public speakers on fire halls, to warn Calgarians about approaching flood waters.

READ MORE: Cities are on the hook for extreme weather. What are they doing about it?

Despite the update from officials, residents in hard hit areas like Rideau complain it’s nothing more than PR.

“We are demanding some action,” says James Maxim, who previously ran for city council. “We want to see boots on the ground, we want to see some sandbags, we want to see some flood walls being put up and we want to know there is a plan in place for whatever comes about.”

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Permanent flood mitigation solutions like a proposed diversion tunnel from the Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River will take years to build.

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