Calgary’s Cowboy Style Emergency Management – take #2

This article in HuffPost/Canada today really got my goat: Naheed Nenshi Tells World Economic Forum Clear Communication Key After Natural Disasters. Once again, the well-meaning but free-lance style of emergency management used in Calgary Alberta after the floods this past spring leave me wondering why the basic tenets of emergency management are so unknown or ignored by public officials in a major city. [And he got invited to Davos to talk about his maverick version of emergency management!]

The Calgary Mayor’s personal version of disaster response might have worked, at least once, in Calgary, but most of what he recommended makes no sense for efficient and effective emergency management; e.g.,

  • Mayor serving as Public Information Officer
  • Mayor getting no sleep and having no backup,
  • Empowering thousands of untrained, amateur bldg. inspectors.

In reading a second press account of what the mayor said – Naheed Nenshi discusses resilience to flood at Davos forum   I am even more infuriated.  Here he is quoted as saying the recovery process went well. Too bad no one else had a chance to speak to that statement, since that does not appear to be true by traditional emergency management standards, in my opinion. Plus the term resilience seems to be used in an imprecise and not helpful way..

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My  first take on this topic was back in June 2013, when I did a posting that was critical of the use of debits cards as a means of providing disaster assistance to disaster victims.  See: https://recoverydiva.com/2013/06/24/disaster-response-canadian-cowboy-style/.

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In this past year, two big Canadian Cities — Calgary and Toronto — have displayed a remarkable lack of preparation for disasters and have used mainly ad hoc means to muddle their their way through major disaster events. Some innovation is to be expected after a disaster, but more strategic thinking and planning seems to be needed.

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2 Responses to Calgary’s Cowboy Style Emergency Management – take #2

  1. recoverydiva says:

    Thanks for writing. It is painful for those who have the education, training, and experience to watch those who do not but proceed to wing it!

  2. John Richardson says:

    This is very frustrating. We see this a lot, where the public, and sometimes, senior officials, have no idea or sometimes no trust in the emergency manager, and then proceed to make it up as they go along. Those in the know tend to be shunted aside. A lot this, I think, has to do with recovery not being taken seriously, or the professionals being respected. As I’ve written elsewhere, we don’t appoint the fire chiefs as the fires are coming over the hill.

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