“At 9:15 this morning, the mayor and the city manager have both signed a declaration of local emergency.”
So said Tom Sampson, deputy chief of emergency management for Calgary, but it wasn’t for real. The city was conducting a mock flood disaster as part of getting prepared for spring flooding which will occur, if not this year, at some time in the future. It’s just a question of when.
“It’s actually our number one concern in the city of Calgary,” said Sampson. “We have the confluence of two rivers, and flooding is probably the number one problem that can occur in terms of likelihood.”
Back in 2005, extensive flooding along both the Bow and Elbow rivers combined with heavy floods through much of southern Alberta to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
This year, the city is adding “water tubes” to its arsenal of flood defences. They’re long rubber tubes which can either replace conventional sandbags or be added to them.
Sampson, who left his position as EMS chief less than two months ago to join the emergency management team, says he’s learning on the job but he’s confident the city will be adequately prepared for the inevitable next flood.
“I’m the new guy on the job,” he says, “and I have a lot of partners to learn about and the work they do. And you know what, I think we’re going to be one of the best prepared cities in North America.”