Friday, November 29, 2013

Quick note: the Alberta floods

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy recently published a report I authored on the Alberta Floods. You can read it here.

Takeaway: mitigation measures pay. I know it's tempting to write-off post-disaster spending as altogether extravagant (boggling recovery costs!), but the berms, dams, land-use regulations and relocations are sound investments. It's just too bad they didn't happen sooner.


  1. I will belive it when I see it. I expect there to be as much effective work done as there was in response to the 2005 - which was effectively zero. If they move any dirt for the High River diversion (can we rip off Duff's Ditch and call this Allie's Alley) or the dry dams west of Bragg Creek before the run up to the next election, I will be shocked.

    Judging from the assistance and adequate warning that I receive from all levels of government, also effectively zero - both pre- and post-flood - my investment has been in a generator, pumps (2) and ready to go sandbags (100+). Relying on the government will only lead to disappointment and hefty and for the most part uninsurable re-building costs.

    I am still at a loss to see how the reaction of any level of government could be categorized as anything better than clueless. Calgary mayor, out of town on a boondoggle when the flood hit. Once he came back the best he could do was have an endless loop of cutesey-pie press conferences that imparted zero useful information. Evacuation orders that were not adequately distributed (what happened to the emergency broadcast system) nor timely or clear. The people going door to door telling people to evacuate provided little or no information but did tie a piece of caution tape to our front railing. City of Calgary website and local news were completely useless and provided no information until well into Friday morning. When I went back home at about 5:30 am I could find nothing about the state of flooding and by that figured that the problem had passed and was rather shocked to find my house all but an island and the water starting to rise in the basement. The online flow rate charts for all of the affected rivers went offline on the day before the flood hit so that we had nothing by which to judge for ourselves how bad it could be and had to rely on the indifferent advice from our various levels of government. I could go on about the Safeway berm, police that that seemed more conerned about staying dry than making sure that people entering the evacuated flood zones actually belonged there, the premature/unnecessary/overly broad cut off of electricity, I could go on. The only people that distinguished themselves from the government were the garbage collectors that seemed to be going 24/7 and taking everything.

    Volunteers were great, but any useful ones came to help on their own. Nenshi's photo op rally at McMahon was a whole lot of show and little go.

    DRP is PR program not a real assistance program. Most people I know did not take it and of those that did I know more people that have asked to get out and given back any money than have stayed with it.

    The flood was a disaster that only planning and political action years ago could have prevented or mitigated. However, vitually all actions before and reactions after the flood hit were inadequate and ineffective. The only take away I have from the flood (other than some serious reconstruction bills) was that counting on government for anything, even adequate warning, is foolish and that you have to be ready to act proactively and on your own.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I understand your frustration, and think you're wise to take your own proactive measures. I agree that the current reliance on the DRP and DFAA is both expensive and inadequate, and the government's inaction prior to the flood was baffling.

      I'm also now dying to meet and profile those garbage collectors.