Alberta flood protection measures improving, say officials

Southern Alberta is better prepared from 2013 to deal with future flooding, say officials working on mitigation and forecasting.

'We built it bigger, better and stronger than it was before'

It's a question many are asking: Is the city better prepared if we were to be hit with another one in one hundred years event? 4:16

Southern Alberta is better prepared to deal with future flooding after last year's disaster, say officials working on mitigation and forecasting.

In Calgary, infrastructure teams have targeted erosion sites along the rivers, including the Inglewood neighbourhood.

"We built it bigger, better and stronger than it was before and so I'm very confident that if another event were to come, we would be able to withstand the forces we saw last year," said city engineer Lee Hang.

There are storage facilities and a diversion tunnel proposed for the Elbow River.

In Bowness, flood-victim Dean Meyers has reinforced concrete walls and floors in his basement. He has moved his hot water tank and furnace upstairs.

He feels somewhat prepared for another flood but worries about what is being done to prevent a disaster in his part of the city.

"I hear lots about what's being done on the Elbow River and I don't hear very much about what's being done on the Bow River.

Plans for the Bow River

The most significant change on the Bow River is Trans-Alta's agreement with the province to drop the level in the Ghost Reservoir to hold back more water during spring runoff.

"I would suggest that if we had the same rainfall, while we might see some flooding, it wouldn't be anywhere near the devastation we had last time," said Environment Minister Robin Campbell.

Flood officials say they are confident Alberta can avoid the type of flooding experienced in 2013 as seen, for example, under the Centre Street bridge in Calgary. (CBC)

The province has installed 40 new rainfall gauge alarms upstream from the city.

It will also use more detailed forecasts from Environment Canada and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

"That information is not necessarily being directly into our models. We still take that information and we create our input files ourselves," said Evan Friesenhan, the director of the provincial River Forecast Centre.

The province has also taken measures to improve communications in order to give people more advanced warnings by developing a rivers app for smartphones. It will feature streamflow warnings.

Officials say until major mitigation projects are complete, a similar disaster would be tough to avoid completely.


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