City of Calgary on standby to send help to areas impacted by floods in B.C.

A home is surrounded by flood waters in Chilliwack, B.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

Emergency officials in Calgary say they’re waiting and ready to send aid to British Columbia amid a state of emergency in that province due to “once in a century” flooding.

But city administration told the Community Development Committee on Wednesday that there haven’t been any requests for assistance from B.C.

“When we talk about deployment of resources outside of our jurisdiction to a neighbouring jurisdiction, and in this case, a neighbouring province, there’s certain protocols that take place,” Calgary Emergency Management Agency deputy assistant chief Coby Duerr told the committee.

According to CEMA, a request for assistance from B.C. would go through the provincial government, and a response would be co-ordinated through the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

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Duerr told the committee that once the request is received from B.C., emergency crews would be ready to deploy within four to six hours.

“We have equipment already ready to go, and we have already done a check of our Canada Task Force 2 personnel, and they are ready and have updated to on-call status,” Duerr said. “We have done a lot of prep work if there is a request to come through.”

Canada Task Force 2, which is based in Calgary and operated by CEMA, is an all-hazards disaster response team that has responded to several emergency situations in the past, including the 2011 Slave Lake wildfires, the 2013 Calgary floods and the wildfires in Fort McMurray in 2016.

According to the City of Calgary, the team is made up of more than 150 volunteer rescue specialists, medical personnel, structural engineers, communications and logistics specialists and command staff and is “capable of handling a wide variety of demanding disaster and rescue situations.”

If requested, the city said it has road construction crews and heavy machine operators along with water resources staff that it could also deploy to B.C. to help following the flooding.

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Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong asked several questions of administration at committee about a potential response from Calgary.

“As Calgarians realized similar devastation through our floods and received a lot of good support from municipal colleagues in Alberta as well as B.C., I felt it was incumbent upon us to make ourselves available to them as well,” Wong said.

The conversation at committee comes the same day as the B.C. provincial government declared a state of emergency to respond to the flooding.

The floods and coinciding mudslides have forced thousands to flee their homes as several communities remain under evacuation orders as the damage continues to cut off supply chains and movement through the area.

Provincial officials in B.C. have confirmed one person has died but expect to confirm more fatalities in the coming days as there are still people reported missing.

The federal government has been providing resources to British Columbia, including an approved deployment of air force personnel and the Canadian Armed Forces.

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“Calgary is ready, willing and able, but it’s going to be essential that we wait for that formal request to come,” City of Calgary community services general manager Katie Black told the committee.

“When that request comes… we will be ready to mobilize extremely quickly to assist as required.”

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