Disaster Response – Canadian Cowboy style

Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede

The title of the article is Government Rides to the Rescue with Debit Cards, and the promises are amazing. No mention of disaster recovery centers, no mention of the Red Cross or other humanitarian organizations, and no mention of the local emergency management agency.  Just debit cards on their way — the card is in the mail, I guess.

My first reaction is shock.  Some years ago, FEMA mailed checks to addresses in the zip codes of victims after the Northridge Earthquake (1994) without checking on their eligibility and that did not work out very well. Then after Hurricane Katrina(2005), a huge amount of fraud and abuse occurred because FEMA could not adequately  account for payments made.

Hope the folks in Calgary and Alberta fare better than their neighbor to the south, but I doubt it.


June 25 Update: From an article titled: Political Promise for Flood Crisis is Remarkably Risky Move:

Who will argue with the goal? Not me. Even Wildrose is holding fire on this, supporting spending while criticizing the government for previously wasting the rainy day money before the serious water arrived.But despite her admirable motives and goals, Redford is taking a spectacular risk.

She promises to do a job when she doesn’t know what the job is, or how much money will be needed.“We don’t know what the final cost will be,” she said in an interview with the Herald’s Chris Varcoe. “We don’t yet have the long-term plan.”

June 27 Update: The Stampede will go on.

9 thoughts on “Disaster Response – Canadian Cowboy style

  1. It was interesting, and a bit surreal to be in Calgary for two water workshops last week, but nowhere near the flood zone. Flying in, the Bow was a ribbon of mud, and we could see places blocked off downtown. It made me think about how rivers, always, eventually go wherever they want. One speaker spoke about the hubris of the term “water management” in this context. But from where we were at the airport hotels, one wouldn’t have immediately known that the centre of the wealthiest city in Canada had been hit by a cataclysm. And insult is being added to injury. This week, they are advising residents to conserve electricity because the grid is having trouble keeping up with the heat wave, and warning of thunder storms. Mayor Nenshi tweeted today, wondering if locusts or godzilla were coming next.

    • Thanks for the news of Calgary.

      From what I have read in the media, a lot of environmental research and advice was ignored by Calgary officials, prior to the flooding. Any discussion of science and prior flood events?

  2. I like your headline on this post. As a BC water policy person, I’ve been following the Calgary flooding pretty closely on Twitter and in the news. There is a big push to get the disaster recovery done quickly so that they can have the Calgary Stampede (the biggest rodeo event in the country) next week. The Stampede grounds were completely swamped. Volunteers are massing by the thousands. The Prime Minister of Canada is from Calgary, so that helps. 🙂 That being said, there was raw sewage flowing into the Bow River this weekend, and many of the transit systems are down, so it will be a heroic effort to pull off the rodeo.

    In another ironic twist, I’m participating in the Canadian Water Summit in Calgary this week – a national conference focusing on water, economy, and collaboration. Originally scheduled to be held downtown, it will instead be at the airport hotel. It will be very interesting to see the city in the recovery mode, and hear the elected officials and business community views on the recovery and re-development.

    • I have seen dozens of examples of disaster recovery and the process cannot be rushed.
      My personal take is that the debit cards do not take into account the needs of victims, nor does it provide for experienced staff/officials to help those with special problems/needs.
      Just providing funds is not the answer necessarily.

      I will be very interested in hearing how things go at your meeting. Perhaps you could write up a few paragraphs and be a guest blogger from Calgary.

      • Thanks, Claire, I’ll keep that in mind and try to take some notes. As the conference isn’t exactly about flooding but more about water challenges and opportunities, my commentary might be a little oblique.

      • I think it would be interesting to hear your observations about the city and the local news/conversations/concerns. No need to do a conference summary. Just a first hand look at the city.

        I wonder if the debit cards will take the edge off the nightmare of the disaster.


  3. En route to Calgary to help out our Canadian Red Cross colleagues for a couple weeks.

    Jono Anzalone, CEM _________________________________________ Division Disaster Executive, North Central Division (ID, MT, ND, SD, MN, WI, IL, NE, IA, KS, and MO) American Red Cross l 2912 S 80th Ave | Omaha, NE 68124 | Email: jono.anzalone@redcross.org| Office 402.343.7761 l Mobile 402.871.4070 or 202.441.5683 l Skype: jono.anzalone

    Learn more about the National Mass Care Strategy!

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