Dozens of emergency responders are gathering in High River to stage a mock disaster over the next two days to help the town make sure it’s ready for another major flood.
Town officials teamed up with the province and Canada Task Force 2 (Can-TF2) — a heavy urban search and rescue team made up of doctors, structural engineers, canine searchers and other specialists — to practice High River’s revised Emergency Operations Centre Response Plan.
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The emergency exercises on Friday and Saturday will include testing of two temporary outdoor warning sirens — one in the town’s northwest and the other at the fire station.
Construction has begun on a permanent siren system.
"We weren't, quite frankly, prepared for last year's level of flood,” said Albert Flootman, director of emergency management in High River.
“However we are much better prepared today with all the things we've been doing.”
The town has created a smartphone app — High River ALERT — that will issue alerts in emergencies. It’s also being tested on Friday as part of the mock disaster.
The town has been building a network of dikes and berms to prevent a repeat of the massive flooding that devastated the community last June.
The basin of the Highwood River has been scraped to increase its flow through High River.
The province is also looking at building an overland diversion route for the Highwood around the town.