It has taken a week or so, but finally some in-depth analyses about the floods are showing up in the media accounts. Some examples are cited below. It may just be that the Calgary Floods are to Canada what Superstorm Sandy was to the U.S. – both disasters have a high ratio of impact and both are a wakeup call to pay attention to the scientific evidence that has been mounting but was ignored.
Alberta floods a wake up call to dangers of extreme weather;‘Water the new fire’ as a danger to property. Some excerpts:
The Alberta floods are Canada’s Hurricane Sandy moment, and should be a catalyst for badly needed changes to limit future damage from extreme weather, say experts on climate change adaptation.
“In many cases, the standards for where and how we build are completely out of date with a climatically changed future,” said Ian Mauro, Canada Research Chair in human dimension and environmental change at Mount Allison University. The Alberta floods, he said, should be a wake-up call that “we need to seriously rethink how we build structures, where we build structures and how we manage in emergency situations.”
Not only do cities and towns need to stop building in flood-prone areas, but infrastructure such as bridges need to be reassessed with extreme weather events in mind. The failing railway bridge over Calgary’s Bow River underlined the catastrophic potential of doing nothing, said Mauro.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “this isn’t fearmongering, this is a call to action to inspire people to build resilient communities to be able to deal with impending superstorms of the future.”
Water, is considered the new fire — it now accounts for more property damage every year in Canada than from fire. But, while many building and zoning regulations were historically developed to lessen the risk of fire, the response to water damage has been inconsistent and weak. Many Canadian cities and towns, for example, don’t even have up-to-date floodplain maps, basic information they need to understand flood risks, says the chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Project Canada.
In a related article, Alberta province took over the management of one badly impacted town, since local officials could not deal with the extent and complexity of the recovery.