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Calgary faces additional flood preparation challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic

An aerial view of downtown Calgary after the June 2013 flooding.
An aerial view of downtown Calgary after the June 2013 flooding. Global News

Calgary’s annual preparation for possible flooding emergencies is facing additional challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, city council’s Utilities and Corporate Services Committee received the annual update on flood resiliency and mitigation.

READ MORE: COVID-19 presents potential challenges to Calgary budget

Over the past five weeks, officials have been working to address the impacts the pandemic might have on a flood emergency.

“We’ve been developing scenarios and developing responses so that we can deliver our full flood emergency response plan under COVID-19 conditions,” said Frank Frigo, the city’s leader in watershed analysis.

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“In terms of having our own staff come to our staging areas and be deployed to individual sites, all of that has been reworked and replanned so we can maintain social distancing.”

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Calgary emergency chief reminds citizens ‘go out, but spread out’
Calgary emergency chief reminds citizens ‘go out, but spread out’

When it comes to having to put together an emergency evacuation plan, Frigo said the idea of using hotel rooms has been explored to ensure physical distancing protocols are being followed.

He added that creating an efficient communication plan for residents is also vital, should the need for an evacuation arise.

“An additional component we’ve been working on with CEMA (Calgary Emergency Management Agency) very recently, was ensuring citizens will have good information in terms of how evacuation could proceed should it become necessary.”

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City administration told members of the committee there is a far higher snowpack in the mountains this year compared to 2019, but added the major cause of flooding in the city is rainfall.

Officials said the potential for flooding in Calgary is always greatest between May 15 and July 15.