Analysis and Analogies for Calgary floods

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“In many cases, the standards for where and how we build are completely out of date with a climatically changed future,” said Ian Mauro, Canada Research Chair in human dimension and environmental change at Mount Allison University.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.

Calgary Floods Spotlight Cities’ Costly Failure To Plan For Climate Change

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.

Alberta Needs to Do a Better Job on Flood Forecasting. June 29.

4 thoughts on “Analysis and Analogies for Calgary floods

  1. We here honored at American Red Cross to re-pay the favor Canadian Red Cross provided during Hurricane Sandy, where our Northern Neighbors mobilized 87 volunteers to assist. The American Red Cross team and I (6 in Calgary and 2 in Ottawa) are working closely with Canadian Red Cross to execute a distribution of emergency supplies throughout impacted communities. (

    The Canadian Government launched a nimble debit card program allowing impacted residents to receive $1,250 per adult and $500 per child. Evacuees can get a payment if they were issued an evacuation order, and are unable to return home for a minimum of 7 days.

    I program was well thought out in that evacuees are required to register with the Canadian Red Cross, allowing for an inlet to early case work/management.

    Lessons learned from Katrina, Canadian Government, is requiring primary applicants bring photo ID, SIN, proof of relationships within the evacuated household, or proof of their main home address including postal code to a pre-loaded debit card processing site.

    The pre-loaded debit card will allow for immediate cash withdrawals at ATMs, debit machines and internet purchases to cover emergency expenses (Something which would be nice in the State for evacuated populations).

    Overall, I have been impressed with the governments quick response in mobilizing financial assistance.

    • Thanks for the update and more details, Jono.

      My initial reaction was one of trepidation re the debit cards, but your account suggests the method has been carefully thought out. Hope it works. I guess all eyes will be watching that approach.

  2. I know the American Red Cross is helping out the Canadian Red Cross, which has the lead role in registering people to determine who is eligible for a debit card for flood related expenses.

    I understand the Canadian Red Cross helped the American Red Cross during Superstorm Sandy.

  3. I would be interested in learning what US officials have offered if anything is indeed necessary to lend assistance. As one most appreciative American who feels very close to fellow Canadians, whenever calamity strikes the US whether by Mother Nature’s hand or other, the Canadian government and its good people are always prepared to assist. It is essential that our two governments and We the People clasp handshake and assist one another when so required.

    Christopher Tingus
    Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

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