have you made a war out of your heart?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

have you made a war out of your heart?


have you learned your lessons as well as you could have?
have you poured yourself out entirely and made not a drop
of your soul an acid throw? have you given your mask away
a dozen times and shown yourself naked to the beloved? and if not
why not? the world aches for this sort of courage and you have failed
if you have not done any of these works

have you grown a garden of words and laid the root cellar full of your harvest?
have you gone out into the world and faced each lie with your sword and cut down
as much of that thicket down? have you made a war out of your heart? have you taken
down all those who would harm the ones who are powerless? have you been shield and cry?
have you done the good work? and if not why not? why have you not spoken up and given your blood
for the cause which is the cause of all of mankind? why have you not laid your life on the line?

the line of poetry the line of language the line of acts of courage?
why have you stayed silent while the homeless walked by your home?
why have you not spoken for the hungry? why have you kept quiet when we have been lied to?
why have you not taken out your soul from its burial ground and given it up in life to do the work
of love? I ask you this not to make you ashamed or restless I ask you this because I am curious
how can you let your children live and yet keep silent when their children die?

how can you do this?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Slave Lake Lessons Learned Report: Building on our Strengths 2012, Recommendation 8 --Improve local and provincial preparedness for the possibility of evacuation, building on the experience gained from coordinating the evacuation of much of the Lesser Slave Lake region. Post # 4------Margie says: July 13, 2013 at 9:26 am Our entire community of 305 dwellings on lease land on the Siksika Reserve has been destroyed in this flood. For some of our homeowners, it was their primary residence. For some it was a week-end residence. The majority of home owners were senior citizens – many had either retired there and wintered down south, or planned on doing so. The lease was up at the end of this season, so many of the owners had purchased property elsewhere, and were going to move their places out this fall. A major berm project was undertaken after the flood of 2005 and it was completed in 2011. This berm did little to stop this flood, though was very effective from 2006 through 2012. It has been 3 weeks since we were flooded. We are just now getting in to assess the damage. Health Canada and the Siksika Nation wouldn’t survey and release our homes until after they had finished doing the 200 homes on the Reserve. What wasn’t destroyed by twelve of more feet of fast flowing river, is now destroyed by the mold and contamination. I will see the wreckage at my place today. The insurance adjusters have been on site for several days, but it appears that no one will be covered for anything. We will all probably apply for Disaster Assistance, but that will likely only be available to Primary residents. The wording of the assistance refers to rebuilding on site, but there are not likely going to be any homes that can be rebuilt, and there is no new lease, so there is no site. Not sure whether the assistance plan rules will stretch far enough to provide assistance to any of us. Here is a link to historical flooding in Calgary. I don’t know if the suggested data correlates to your theory of climate change or not. I’ve lived in this province for over 60 years, and my dad has been here over 80 years – we’ve seen the ebb and low of this provinces climate several times in the past including the years when everyone said it was Global Cooling. http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/calgary-floods-it-could-happen-again/8295/ This is the face of the flood for 305 families at Hidden Valley.








Slave Lake Lessons Learned Report: Building on our Strengths


#8
Improve local and provincial preparedness for the possibility of evacuation, building on the experience gained from coordinating the evacuation of much of the Lesser Slave Lake region.

The evacuation of the Lesser Slave Lake region was enormously difficult given the circumstances of the wildland urban interface fire. It is clear that first responders, local leaders, residents and provincial emergency management personnel all did their best to ensure a rapid and organized evacuation. The fact that the evacuation was ultimately successful is a testament to the efforts of all involved. With that said, there was also an element of good fortune in the outcome of the evacuation, and this experience highlighted a number of opportunities to ensure Alberta’s preparedness for a significant displacement of residents. These opportunities exist at both local and provincial levels, and provincial leadership is required to establish appropriate readiness for all communities.
Evacuation is not required in all emergencies, but it should definitely be considered in local emergency plans so that issues such as transportation, exit routes, and gathering points for residents are addressed. In addition, it is crucial to establish early warning and notification processes to inform residents about an impending threat or an evacuation order via multiple avenues. Technology may offer promising opportunities for notification. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the United States has partnered with the Federal Communications Commission to send geographically targeted, text message-like Wireless Emergency Alerts to the public. The experience of other jurisdictions suggests that local communities will require provincial support to ensure their planning for evacuation is adequate.
When it comes time to evacuate, it should be absolutely clear which single person (as opposed to a “local authority,” or multiple local authorities, for instance) is responsible for issuing the evacuation order
within Alberta’s emergency management system. A consistent, province-wide approach is required under Alberta’s emergency management system for this issue. Similarly, provincial guidance is required in terms of support for evacuees. The province should provide guidelines to all municipalities detailing how to establish a reception centre, what supports to provide, what they can expect the provincial government to provide, how to operate the centre, expectations regarding financial management and record keeping, and how that centre will fit into the command structure during an emergency. Established guidelines should clarify the decision making structure within and between centres, and how information and communications are to be managed between them as well.
To support municipalities in executing an evacuation and in supporting evacuees, provincial leadership is also required to ensure that key partners are prepared to assist. For instance, the role and authorities of first responders in executing an evacuation order need to be clarified at a provincial level, and integrated into emergency planning and training across the province. In the case of the Lesser Slave Lake regional wildfires, the Government of Alberta was also able to very quickly engage the Canadian Red Cross to support evacuees. To ensure this level of support is available in the future if required, the Government of Alberta should establish an agreement with the Canadian Red Cross or other provider that defines what supports may be required for both evacuees and reception centres. The Canadian Red Cross’ role varies in different jurisdictions, and any contract with this organization should be tailored to specific needs within the emergency management approach in Alberta. For instance, the Canadian Red Cross is a member of Alberta’s NGO Council, and as such their role should be defined in the context of their contributions as a member of this Council.

*********************************************************************************
This recommendation deals with the agency who will issue the evacuation order and how it will be done.
I note that the evacuation for the flood victims in High Level was accompanied with a great deal of tension.

What caused these tensions?

The communication between the government and the people doesn't seem to have been very good. This was a week after the residents were locked out of their homes.








‘Hell to pay:’ Residents angry as RCMP seize guns from High River homes (with video)

‘It’s just like Nazi Germany,’ says resident

386

RCMP revealed Thursday that officers have seized a “substantial amount” of firearms from homes in the evacuated town of High River. “We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” said Sgt. Brian Topham. That news didn’t sit well with a crowd of frustrated residents who had planned to breach a police checkpoint northwest of the town as an evacuation order stretched into its eighth day.

HIGH RIVER — RCMP revealed Thursday that officers have seized a “substantial amount” of firearms from homes in the evacuated town of High River.
“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” said Sgt. Brian Topham.
“People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms ... so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”
That news didn’t sit well with a crowd of frustrated residents who had planned to breach a police checkpoint northwest of the town as an evacuation order stretched into its eighth day.
“I find that absolutely incredible that they have the right to go into a person’s belongings out of their home,” said resident Brenda Lackey, after learning Mounties have been taking residents’ guns. “When people find out about this there’s going to be untold hell to pay.”
See photos from the scene.
About 30 RCMP officers set up a blockade at the checkpoint, preventing 50 residents from walking into the town. Dozens more police cars, lights on, could be seen lining streets in the town on standby.
Officers laid down a spike belt to stop anyone from attempting to drive past the blockade. That action sent the crowd of residents into a rage.
“What’s next? Tear gas?” shouted one resident.
“It’s just like Nazi Germany, just taking orders,” shouted another.
“This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms,” said Charles Timpano, pointing to the group of Mounties.
Officers were ordered to fall back about an hour into the standoff in order to diffuse the situation and listen to residents’ concerns.
“We don’t want our town to turn into another New Orleans,” said resident Jeff Langford. “The longer that the water stays in our houses the worse it’s going to be. We’ll either be bulldozing them or burning them down because we’ve got an incompetent government.”
Langford blasted High River Mayor Emile Blokland over comments made Wednesday in which Blokland said residents will be allowed to return after businesses, such as hardware and drug stores, are opened.
“It was ridiculous,” said Langford. “I think he’s a puppet on a string.”
Langford said Premier Redford should come to High River to address residents’ concerns and provide information.
“This is at the highest tension,” he said. “What’s going to happen next is that people are just going to be walking across these fields, and I don’t care if they put hundreds of thousand of police officers there, they’re not going to stop from getting in.”
Sgt. Topham said he didn’t know when residents would be allowed to return to their homes. “People much higher up are going to make those decisions,” he said.
He did confirm that officer relied on forced entry to get into numerous houses during the early stages of the flood because of an “urgent need”, said Topham.
Police are no longer forcing themselves into homes and the residences that were forced open will be secured, he said.
Topham said the confiscated firearms have been inventoried and are secured at an RCMP detachment. He was not at liberty to say how many firearms had been confiscated.
“We have seized a large quantity of firearms simply because they were left by residents in their places,” said Topham.
The guns will be returned to owners after residents are allowed back in town and they provide proof of ownership, Topham added.
Residents promised to returned to the checkpoint at noon every day until they are allowed to return to their homes.



********************************************************************************
Not only were residents annoyed about the amount of time they were kept out of their homes but they feel that in some cases, they need not have been evacuated:








High River residents frustrated by plans for re-entry to flood zone



CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, June 30, 2013 3:40PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 30, 2013 11:33PM EDT




Many evacuees in High River say the re-entry plan for their flood-stricken community is slow and confusing, and are frustrated as they compare their community's progress to the speedier efforts in Calgary.
Cam Crawford, who heads up the High River Residents Association, says the plan is "very, very cumbersome" and allows only certain people to assess the damage to their houses and begin necessary repairs
"It’s really ineffective and inefficient," he told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
Crawford blames the provincial and municipal authorities for the bureaucratic process, saying the re-entry plan is "causing the frustration level in residents to grow exponentially here in the community, hour by hour."
Adding to the residents’ frustration is the speed at which Calgary is recovering from the flood.
"Up in Calgary, they’re three-quarters done," Barry Keller, a resident of High River told CTV News. "We’ve just barely even begun."
Tens of thousands of Calgarians have been able to return home since being forced to evacuate last week. Already, many of the city's former waterlogged neighbourhoods have been cleared of flood-damaged materials, as volunteers continue to pitch in.
Back in High River, many residents who say they want to help say they're being forced to wait behind RCMP roadblocks.
Officials have enforced a pass system and residents who want to cross the barriers are required to have a card. "There are swarms of people here that are ready to help but they’re making it difficult," said Darcy Bennett.
Beyond the checkpoints, residents were greeted by more confusion and mess.
Doors bent by the force of rushing water leaned against doorframes while the streets were filled with debris.
In one home that was formerly occupied by a 82-year-old widow, damaged furniture sat on a carpet lined with mud.
"The bed she slept in with her husband is now gone," said Shelly Berresford who was helping with the clean-up. "She was very upset about that."
High River’s 13,000 residents were forced to flee more than a week ago as floodwaters devastated large swaths of southern Alberta.
Alberta officials announced Friday that approximately 5,000 residents who live in the northwest part of town would be allowed in over the weekend.
On Saturday, residents of 1,817 homes were allowed back into the community to view the damage. Their homes were colour-coded to signify the extent of flood damage. More than 800 of those homes were either uninhabitable or had to be cleaned and renovated before anyone could stay there.
But the colour-coded system is proving to be confusing for some residents, who say the communication between officials and residents has been problematic.
"Emotionally we need to know. When they say you’re red, they have reasons why they’ve made us red but they haven’t told us," a woman named Yvonne told CTV News.
Crawford described the communication to residents as "abysmal."
“Everybody is craving information. Information calms people down, lack of information causes paranoia.”
That’s why the residents’ association is there to support affected families, Crawford said.
“We seem to have lost any advocates for the residents of High River,” he said. “Everybody is on the authority and elected officials’ side. They’re lining up on the side of the police state that we’re currently being administered.”
The director of the High River task Force, Shane Schreiber, said that officials are doing everything they can to let residents back in, but safety is the first priority.
“If you’ve been to a welcome centre, you’ve seen how desperate people are to get back to see their homes. We’re desperate to make that happen.”
Financial aid for flood victims
The Alberta government has pledged $1 billion in flood relief for affected families and communities.
Currently, immediate emergency funding is available to High River, Calgary and Canmore residents who were issued evacuation orders and are unable to return to their homes for at least seven days.
The province is handing out pre-loaded debit cards in the amounts of $1,250 per adult and $500 per child.
The debit cards became available to Calgary and Canmore evacuees on Sunday. High River evacuees were able to receive debit cards beginning on June 27.
Those who were ordered to evacuate but decided to remain in their homes do not qualify for the funding.
Additional financial aid is being provided through the province’s disaster recovery programs. The assistance is to be used to repair or rebuild damaged homes, as well as cover any other uninsurable property damage and loss caused by the flooding.
Starting on July 2, Calgary, Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray First Nation flood victims can apply for the assistance at designated locations.
The amount of relief funding each household receives is determined by the size of the home, the number of rooms and other factors, such as having a finished basement.
For a complete list of financial aid requirements and service locations, visit http://alberta.ca/RecoveryInformation.cfm


**********************************************************************************

So I am curious now.
How is it that the City of Calgary was able to allow their citizens back to their homes so fast and not the citizens of High Level?
Does the town not have an effective emergency plan?
Does it have outdated protocols?
Who decides on evacuation?
Who decides when citizens return to their homes?
Some of the citizens in this town indicate that their homes were in no danger so why were they kept out of their homes?

So what went wrong in this disaster response (at least in terms of public relations) and what went right in Calgary where Mayor Nenshi was a  hero to his city's citizens?



http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/high-river-residents-frustrated-by-plans-for-re-entry-to-flood-zone-1.1347820#ixzz2aD8OH8m6

Brenda
Jul. 2, 2013
9:47 AM
First let me clear something up. The media shows only what's sensational, so all the many areas of town that were not affected never got a second's air time. This leaves the false impression that the whole town is unsafe. That is untrue. My home and all the homes on my block, plus all the homes on the block east of us, were not touched by water. BUT, because they are in the same arbitrary zone as the homes that are still submerged (which are more than another whole block away) we are being told that it's 3-5 weeks before we can even see if we have sewer backup. By then whatever we could have saved will be destroyed by mold. When I asked why it had been zoned that way, the supervisor at the emergency operations centre told me that it was a "natural boundary", not because it was unsafe or inaccessible. I cannot express the anger and frustration that this is causing.
will
Jul. 2, 2013
9:11 AM
I am thouroughly embarrassed to be from High River with the comments coming out of here directed at police, fire and administration. Maybe we should act like Clagary and Medicine Hat residents and be thankful for the help and safety provided. Obviously our residents don't realize the danger they were and are in.I agree we should have the police, Fire and Admin just stay off to the sidelines and see what residents who know better handle it. Talk about what a disaster that would be. They would be killing each other. Like I said I'm pround when I read comments coming from the other centres but totally embarrased by our comments. People!!! it was a disaster, plain and simple
Therese
Jul. 1, 2013
10:45 PM
I was slogging through heavy, thick mud downtown to clear our business, and swung by to visit a friend who was finally allowed to get back to her home. It is thick with mould and the sewage smell was almost gagging. Her entire main floor was covered with 6 inches of mud, all her furniture was covered with mould. And nobody was allowed in to help? Why did the powers in charge think that is a good idea? It is so wrong to make people stand in long lines, get all the red tape shoved in their faces, and then after a couple hours of that crap, you get to face destruction and loss with no help other than an offer by mental health to talk about it. How about letting them in last week, or even a couple days ago? How about letting in anyone who can lift shovel, pack, and save anything before it is covered with mould , cracked, or falling apart? That would have been real help. We will sneak back in to help her again, even though we are not allowed in to see what our home looks like for another two days! Goodie!! The Calgary flood was handled swiftly , efficiently and you are not alone to face the devastating carnage. High River has left their citizens High and Dry.
cathy
Jul. 1, 2013
9:07 PM
The RCMP and those administrating the High River recovery are trying to kill the community spirit that helped Calgary recover.
Arly
Jul. 1, 2013
12:38 PM
I cannot begin to imagine the horror and extreme stress affecting everyone - everyone includes responders - in High River. Early on the mayor was quoted as saying that High River had not experienced a mere flood. A flood could be cleaned up and dealt with. I recall he described High River as a "disaster". Calgary had a horrible flood. People lost homes. High River had a disaster - there was nowhere to pump the water for quite some time. That one photo of the main street still haunts me. All I can do is pray, send good wishes, whatever one calls it. I have a way I can volunteer and will contact the appropriate person. I hope High River will rebuild homes on higher ground. It will be beautiful again - the residents will see to that. <3
simone
Jul. 1, 2013
2:12 AM
Their frustration is understandable but being safe is far more important. Stuff is just stuff and can be replace but a life can't. This is a monumental task for all involved and patience,although difficult,should be used. Nothing will go any faster if everyone is angry with one another. Removing the guns from homes was just common sense and the RCMP did the right thing. There are those in our society who will take advantage of others misery and we don't want firearms in those less than stellar individuals hands
Ray
Jul. 1, 2013
1:02 AM
Willing to come out and help in High River, but it seems there is no point rushing down from Calgary as I won't be allowed into town just yet. On a weeks holiday and months ago I planned to be fishing the Highwood and Oldman this coming week. Instead last Thursday and Friday there were fish swimming through my condo complex building 100 meters from the Elbow. We lost seven units in the basement(so seven families without homes)and it's the same story for dozens of buildings for blocks in the area. All the basement suites lost. Some buildings condemned, so most likely 35 families without a home in those 4 story walk-ups. As soon as the water began to recede we were allowed to return and begin clean-up. On one particular day about four days after the flood I counted about thirty people helping clear out the destroyed basement suites, laundry room, and storage lockers just in our building. Many of them came from areas of the city unaffected by the flood. People came from all over the city with food and water for those covered in mud. In particular I will always remember the two little girls pulling a red wagon filled with cookies. Even in the darkest days there is a light as these children learned about charity and compassion and caring at it's most basic level. You just know this will stay with them for the rest of their lives. At one stretch our Mayor Nenshi was up for over 40 hours getting things on track. The guy was a rock and has my vote next election. He obviously loves our city and it's people and it showed. I was fortunate enough to be living on the second floor and avoided the surge of water by about three feet. However the building lost all electrical boxes, boiler, water heater, washers, dryers, etc. and it will be perhaps 3 or 4 weeks before we can go back home as power and water cannot be turned on for some time. I was inspired by those who helped us so in turn will gladly help others and it seems that High River will be the community most in need and thus my willingness to help out any way I can at least for a few days. I can certainly understand how many in High River feel about not being allowed back into your homes as after a few days I was anxious to get to work on our building but had to wait. By the same token it seems that the damage is far more extensive and perhaps more danger exisits in your homes as opposed to Calgary and that would perhaps explain the caution by officials. I'm no pro, but learned quite a lot this past week as we cleaned out our condo building basement. Even after just four days the black mould was climbing up the pink insulation. I would strongly recommend face masks and protective glasses when reaching up and pulling down wallboard. Would also recommend updated tetnus shots because of water standing for so long and bacteria fermenting. Dehydration will be a big concern as hot days are expected in the coming week and drinking lots will be crutial especially with all the physical, emotional, and mental demands you will be placing on yourself. As I said, I am no professional...these are just my thoughts. Don't think for a moment that people up in Calgary don't care about High River, because we do. We care about Banff, Canmore, High River, Medicine Hat, and everywhere else affected by this catastrophe because after all, we are all just people trying to survive and there is no geograhical boundry that separates the family of man. Godspeed to the people of High River. The thoughts and prayers of many are with you.
cathy
Jun. 30, 2013
11:39 PM
During the height of the flood, yes there was a state of emergency but that time is long past. This is getting ridiculous. The Calgary Herald had a map of where there is still standing water and that is only in portions of High River. The provincial government should be looking at pumping out the neighborhood with standing and not barricading residents from their homes. The RCMP are even barricading the army of people who want to help the residents of clean their homes.
RAV
Jun. 30, 2013
11:17 PM
Just remember the RCMP secured the guns and will return them to their rightful owners when realistic. They did not seize them in the criminal sense. Safety is the issue not invasion of rights as some would imply. Remember the objective of the police is to serve and protect. They are to be commended for their dedication in a very difficult situation.
Robyn Burgess
Jun. 30, 2013
11:02 PM
Be strong and keep safe. You are more important and I do understand your need to see for yourself. You are people I have never met but who spend a lot of time in my thoughts. Hugs to all.
Dennis in Edmonton
Jun. 30, 2013
10:25 PM
It's time for the police and government to step aside and let people make their own decisions. This big brother, nanny state stuff HAS TO STOP. Pretty soon, you'll need to call in for permission to walk down the street if it's anything but a clear sunny day.
WB
Jun. 30, 2013
10:01 PM
I apologize but, people really need to grow up. This is getting sickening the complaining and blame being put on the police and admin. I have an idea, lets have the police, military, fire ,ems and admin people just walk away. What in the hell would you people do. If you think this was chaos at least it was organized chaos. You would be absolutely lost. all of you. just read where somebody complaining about guns being taken, well why didn't they take my big screen tyv the writer said. really!!! grow up is a big screen tv going to kill you. they took the guns in plain site and tagged them with each address to be given back when safe to do so. I am embarrassed by some in our community that are being relentless with their criticism. its disgusting. everything these people are doing is for you, do you think they are enjoying this. |In stead of bitching go register and when safe to do so volunteer to help your community. I don't seem to see the emergency services and police in Calgary and medicine hat taken this kind of heat. Maybe just maybe you need to walk up to one of them and shake their hand or give them a hug and say thank you. it is a thankless job they are doing and one we need and should be proud of.
andrew
Jun. 30, 2013
7:48 PM
These residents need to stop complaining... We all understand that you are frustrated and devastated, however how much worse would it be if you went home and your house collapsed on you or you electrocuted yourself or something else? then people would be screaming at the authorities for not making it more safe... Poor officials, damned if they do and damned if they dont
John in NL
Jun. 30, 2013
7:38 PM
Cops entered homes to look for bodies. The entire area is extremely unsafe and you just can't allow hundreds of undocumented people to do whatever they want. Of course everything negative is the fault of officials.
Hank Rearden
Jun. 30, 2013
7:05 PM
The bacon deciding when you can go home to a home they've stolen stuff from is just another encroachment on our ever dwidling property rights. RCMP are nothing but a bunch of affirmative action bureaucrats that have bellied up to the public trough.
Candice
Jun. 30, 2013
6:35 PM
I sgree with David J. I think the elected officials are doing the right thing. The resident are acting out of emotion and not thinking very clearly right now, which is understandable but can still lead to reckless behaviour. We've already seen people get enraged and one man be arrested. The government needs to do this slowly and carefully. Many in the town are dealing with trauma, depression and anxiety and need to be kept safe even if they don't like it or want it. And if it takes a police state to make sure everyone is safe, then so be it. You simply can't have people getting injured or dying just because they are anxious to go home. And yes, I'm aware that residents from High River will now attack us for these comments as expected. That's ok. I'd be blowing off steam to if I was in their situation. My heart goes out to them.
Voltaire403
Jun. 30, 2013
6:20 PM
High River has been a debacle. From Nanny State to Police State and back again, residents have a right to be frustrated. Several homes will be destroyed because of the lockdown. An individual has the right to expose themselves to measured risk if they chose. This situation only demonstrates how far we've slip into a socialist big government nightmare.
Foxer
Jun. 30, 2013
6:04 PM
The cops broke into their homes to steal stuff, then the authorities won't let them get to work to fix things. I bet there bloody ticked off and growing more ticked by the minute. Will any of them ever trust a gov't or mayor again?
R. J Johnson Jr
Jun. 30, 2013
4:58 PM
Well, that's what happens when you depend on the state for everything. Get some independence people, start looking after yourself and your interests and tell the state where to get off. Until then, enjoy the jack booted government minions telling you what to do.
David J
Jun. 30, 2013
4:30 PM
I can only imagine the frustration the residents are experiencing, however... as an uninvolved outsider, looking at the situation through both geographical and emotional distance, I can appreciate WHY officials are taking things slowly. As one official said recently, it not what you can see, it's what you can't that's the problem. The yard may look dry from a distance, but there can be unseen hazards within and around the homes. As frustrating as it is, allow the officials to take the time to do this right.


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So based on the remarks here you can see that there is need for caution but certainly there also seems to be a need for common sense. Folks in High Level seem to have got the worst of the flooding and certainly there is no point letting people back into homes that will be condemned.

But where was the plan?
How was it dealt with?
These people need to have a review of their municipal government's performance in this emergency and see if there are improvements required.

As for Calgary, looks like the Mayor Nenshi came out of the disaster looking pretty good. 

I suppose the difference is one of scale.
Calgary had flooding.
Major flooding.
High Level had a disaster.

But they are back now.







High River residents return to flood-ravaged homes

Officials allow some residents of hardest hit parts of Alberta town to return

Posted: Jul 4, 2013 9:25 AM MT

Last Updated: Jul 4, 2013 11:02 PM MT



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More residents forced out of their homes in flood-ravaged High River, Alta., returned home today to take stock of their damaged homes.
People in Sunshine Meadows, one of the hardest hit areas of the southern Alberta town, were allowed to go into their homes to retrieve belongings, such as photographs and passports — but were warned by officials not to stay.
Many homes have been underwater for more than a week and there is likely to be major structural damage and they could be unsafe, warned officials.
"It is still too dangerous," said Shane Schreiber, of Alberta Emergency Management.
"The construction materials have probably significantly deformed and there is a very real danger of people going in their homes and falling through the floors and being trapped in a watery basement."
But it was relief for some residents. Darlene Beutler came home to find out her house had been labelled code orange — meaning it is waterlogged, unsafe to live in but salvageable.

Damaged homes categorized

She thought her home would be in the red category.
"So we're grateful that it's not quite as bad as we thought it was going to be," she said.
High River officials have been using a colour-code system to help guide people returning to damaged properties.
Properties are classified as green if no remediation or repairs are required. A yellow tag means no structural damage is evident but repairs are needed.
Orange means the water has reached such a level where electrical or heating appliances have been compromised but can be fixed.
Red means flooding has either damaged the structural integrity of the building or the water level has reached a point above the basement level where the flooring system may have been compromised.

Waivers signed

Residents had to sign a waiver acknowledging that they are aware of the danger involved in entering their homes, said Schreiber.
"For many of you going back to the Sunshine, I will just caution that it will be a bit of a shock. We are cleaning it up as fast as we can, but it’s not in a good state," said Schreiber earlier on Thursday.
"Be prepared to see your house in a pretty shocking state, frankly. We're cleaning it up and making it safe as fast as we can."
Residents were also being warned that they need a structural engineer to assess the home before they enter.

Some areas still closed

The Hamptons, Hampton Hills and Wallaceville area will remain a restricted access zone, said Rick Fraser, associate minister of regional recovery and reconstruction.
It still could be weeks before residents are allowed to return these neighbourhoods.
"I am hoping to get some answers," said Jane Russell. "I don't think I am going to get anything answered but at this point I just want to grab my stuff and never come back to be quite honest."
There were bus tours around areas of the neighbourhoods that are accessible, but people will not be allowed to get off the bus or access their homes.
CBC reporter Briar Stewart said many parts of town still smell of rotting material.
In the east part of the town, more than 100,000 gallons of floodwater is being pumped out every minute — which means one Olympic sized pool every six minutes, said Fraser.

Cleanup help

Volunteers are beginning to descend on flood-ravaged High River, Alta.Volunteers are beginning to descend on flood-ravaged High River, Alta. (CBC)The province has established a shuttle service to take volunteers in Calgary to High River to help with the cleanup, which will continue on Friday.
Shuttles leave from Mount Royal University and Bishop O'Byrne High School in Shawnessy every two hours, starting at 9 a.m. MT. The last shuttle from Calgary to High River leaves at 4 p.m. MT, and the last shuttle from High River leaves at 9 p.m. MT.
Volunteers were asked to bring their own supplies including rubber gloves, boots, shovels and garbage bags.
More than 500 vehicles remain unclaimed at High River's rodeo grounds, the province said Thursday.

New phase for interim housing announced

With evacuation centres closing at 3 p.m. Friday, the province says those without a place to go will be placed in other accommodations.
The first placements will accommodate evacuees from High River whose homes are classified as red — or not safe to live in, families and individuals and vulnerable people who are in reception centres and sleeping on cots.
Depending on their assessment, people will be placed for no charge at:
  • Hotel accommodation.
  • University of Lethbridge.
  • University of Calgary.
  • New temporary neighbourhood at Saddlebrook north of High River (opening July 7).
  • New temporary neighbourhood at Great Plains south of Calgary (opening July 13).
The province says Saddlebrook will be able to accommodate 1,250 people within a few weeks, and Great Plains will expand to 1,000 beds. Other locations to house evacuees are also in the works.
The province says accommodations will try to address the needs of residents, including families, seniors and people with special needs.
Officials say locations for displaced residents in other parts of southern Alberta are being determined and will be announced as soon as possible.








  • werner32


No where in entire Canada can you get flood insurance. Insurance companies will only cover sewage backup. People are completly out of pocket.
  • 21 days ago
  • 1 Like
CooperativeCommonwealth
  • CooperativeCommonwealth
@werner32

That should change, especially for new construction. Insurance companies are more likely to hold municipalities to account to take appropriate preventative measures (proper zoning and construction techniques) to avoid massive losses like the ones that tax payers are on the hook for now. I believe that every other industrialized country requires that insurance companies provide flood insurance, but in so doing, I'll bet they help prevent construction on a flood plain, or at least ensure that preventative measures are taken, such as requiring that no developed basements are built in a flood plain. Something must change to take reasonable actions to prevent these kinds of losses in the future.« less

  • Lee Giles
Some insurance companies, such as one with a three-letter name that rhymes with Say Them Say, are said to be rejecting virtually all flood claims in Calgary and High River, Alberta. Anybody have had good luck with a home insurance company? If so, which one? Any other home insurance companies a person should avoid?
  • 21 days ago
  • 3 Likes

  • The Sour Kraute


The Hamptons, Hampton Hills and Wallaceville area will remain a restricted access zone, said Rick Fraser, associate minister of regional recovery and reconstruction. It still could be weeks before residents are allowed to return these neighbourhoods.

this web page's description of the development in these areas prior to the flooding is pretty glowing
and when compared against Mr. Fraser directive anyone with a bit of empathy could easily imagine the state of despair these citizens must be enduring .... perhaps some of the gun clubbers wailing about the RCMP breaking into homes and stealing guns are merely shills for developers who have been assigned the task of projecting concerns somewhere ...

http://www.hamptonhills.ca/index.html« less
  • 20 days ago
  • 0 Likes
sheep??
  • sheep??
@The Sour Kraute I don't personally know any developers. A better question as far as I am concerned is how is it that the entity/s that sold building permits for a possible flood zone are not being held responsible? Those who Approved and profited from the development and sale of high priced real estate in a flood zone Should be responsible unless waivers were signed to that affect. Almost seems like some folks rate profit and taxes higher than the fear of disaster and public safety.

 
  • redforever
Canadian Brown said: "As a homeowner I take great exception to being prevented from decisions about my property,especially since those wielding Authority to deny access,are doing everything to absolve themselves of Responsibility.Unless your home is Condemned,you should have every right to Salvage whatever you can.Water damage is minimised by prompt attention."

*****

Sir, you have no idea of the extent of the damage. There is still a lake in High River, yes a lake.

They have borrowed huge pumps that are used in the oil sands and are emptying that lake.


Every day they pump out 128,000,000 gallons of water and the lake is only going down by 1 inch a day.

How do you propose the owners of the homes now located in that lake get to them, get in them, or get their stuff out? You can't get in the basement if the basement is flooded.
The upstairs was flooded as well, and many of those houses still have water in them. Yes, water damage is minimized by prompt attention but if the house is still flooded, you simply can't minimize the damage.« less
  • 22 days ago
  • 18 Likes
redforever
  • redforever
If you want to see what the citizens of High River are still up against in some parts of town, check out the link below. There is also a video at that link and that was filmed today...so is current.

http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/07/04/calgary-flood-cleanup-winds-down-but-high-river-still-needs-all-the-help-it-can-get

Now do you see why people were not allowed in their houses earlier? It simply was not possible to get into the houses in High River to do so.
  • 21 days ago
  • 4 Likes
cathy0305
  • cathy0305
@redforever
There is another aspect to mention. The lake that still exists on the east side of High River raises the water table in the entire area. Water saturates into the surrounding ground. Although the surrounding homes are not under the flood on the surface it is likely the basements are under some water due to the water table. If the home owners were to pump out these homes, the basements would fill up again. Also the outside forces of the water on the basement walls may reduce the structural integrity of the basement wall.« less
  • 21 days ago
  • 3 Likes
redforever
  • redforever
@cathy0305

Exactly.

Also, the water being pumped out is mainly going into the irrigation canals. There is a limit as to what they can handle as well.
  • 21 days ago
  • 1 Like
AgitatedUser
  • AgitatedUser
@redforever Those aren't irrigation canals, those are water table control canals - basically very large open weeping tiles, but yes, this is to compensate for the high water table that exists from Emerson lake east to Sunshine and then north up parallel to Hwy 2 and under 523 to the river.
*****************************************************************************

So reading all these comments that seem to indicate a very high water table in these areas that were flooded at least in High Level --why did the municipal government in this town allow the development of these areas? Why didn't the provincial government stop this sort of rubbish? In other words why didn't they follow their hidden flood mitigation report here? Apparently this report was released to the government in 2006 and there was another draft report in 2002 and yet we never got to see this report until 2012.
Why?
And why was this developer --yapped about here---permitted to build on this flood plain? Why are taxpayers paying for the indifference of the developer, the town council and the provincial government of Alberta?


  • The Sour Kraute


The Hamptons, Hampton Hills and Wallaceville area will remain a restricted access zone, said Rick Fraser, associate minister of regional recovery and reconstruction. It still could be weeks before residents are allowed to return these neighbourhoods.

this web page's description of the development in these areas prior to the flooding is pretty glowing
and when compared against Mr. Fraser directive anyone with a bit of empathy could easily imagine the state of despair these citizens must be enduring .... perhaps some of the gun clubbers wailing about the RCMP breaking into homes and stealing guns are merely shills for developers who have been assigned the task of projecting concerns somewhere ...

http://www.hamptonhills.ca/index.html« less
  • 20 days ago
  • 0 Likes
sheep??
  • sheep??
@The Sour Kraute I don't personally know any developers. A better question as far as I am concerned is how is it that the entity/s that sold building permits for a possible flood zone are not being held responsible? Those who Approved and profited from the development and sale of high priced real estate in a flood zone Should be responsible unless waivers were signed to that affect. Almost seems like some folks rate profit and taxes higher than the fear of disaster and public safety.





*******************************************************************************
 When I go to the developer's site there is no mention of flooding problems:

FEATURED BUILDERS

Ideally located at the first point of entry into High River, you'll find the Hamptons filled with lush, natural green space. A 14 acre pond, 17 acre nature park, and 8.8km of pathways integrated into the "Happy Trails" system ensure you'll always feel at home in your own community, yet connected to the small town atmosphere. Families will love the toboggan run, twin soccer fields, lush green space, picnic and playground areas, framed by stands of natural flora. Come home, starting from the Low 280's.
GETTING HERE
732 Hampton Hills Dr NE, High River, AB
(403) 652-1477
GET DIRECTIONS >

HIGH RIVER NEWS & EVENTS

Understanding the Universe - Sun Jun 08 @ 7:00PM
'High River Art Gallery Walking Tour' - Sat Jun 09
Regular Council Meeting - Mon Jun 11 @ 1:00PM
Downtown Heritage Inventory Project - Wed Jun 13 @ 4:00PM

*****************************************************************************

If we go look at the flood mitigation report --what should have been done that was not done with the town of High Level?




 Executive Summary
Extreme flood events in Alberta can result in loss of life and cause substantial property damage. In June of 2005, river flooding tragically resulted in the loss of three lives, over $165 million dollars in disaster service payments and many unaccounted hardships for Albertans.
In an effort to identify potential mitigative measures to this natural disaster, a ministerial task force was struck in the fall, 2005 and a flood mitigation committee was created. Lead by G. Groeneveld, MLA for Highwood, the committee consisted of representatives from Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, Alberta Environment and Alberta Municipal Affairs.
A draft flood mitigation strategy was developed. The key elements of the strategy are: (1) making resources available to make informed decisions about flood risks, (2) providing support to municipalities through guidelines, regulations and programs to limit future developments in flood prone areas and (3) continuing to provide technical expertise to municipalities for river and lake related flooding.
The resources required for implementing the all recommendations are estimated at $306 million as a onetime investment to be staged over period of years, $1.2 million increase in government operational budgets and include additional internal resources. We recommend that the federal government be approached to share the $300 million cost for flood mitigation for existing developments in flood prone lands since the federal government shares the cost of disaster assistance if the mitigation work is not done.
An extensive consultation for 16 of the recommendations was held with municipalities who had previously been identified as potentially at risk from river flooding. The results of the consultation indicated strong support was shown for all of the recommendations in the flood risk strategy. After consultation, two additional recommendations were added to the draft flood mitigation strategy for a total of 18 draft recommendations for flood mitigation
Should the province wish to proceed with a provincial flood risk strategy, a project management team is needed to create an action plan for implementation of the recommendations, including budget submissions, directing legislative reviews and identifying requirements for additional full time positions. A second stage of the flood mitigation strategy may also include consultation with additional stakeholder, include First Nations, and refine the scope of the flood mitigation strategy. Implementation of the recommendations proposed will require development of a strategy and clarification of existing programs and key policies.

 Table of Contents
1. Introduction............................................................................................................................1
2. Background............................................................................................................................1
3. Activities of the Flood Mitigation Committee........................................................................2
4. Consultation Results and Recommendations..........................................................................2
5. Future Plans...........................................................................................................................4
6. Summary................................................................................................................................5
7. References..............................................................................................................................5
Appendices
Appendix A Flood Mitigation Committee Membership.................................................................1
Appendix B Municipal Consultations.............................................................................................1
Appendix C DRAFT Flood Mitigation Strategy............................................................................1
Recommendation 1....................................................................................................................1
Recommendation 2....................................................................................................................2
Recommendation 3....................................................................................................................3
Recommendation 4....................................................................................................................4
Recommendation 5....................................................................................................................5
Recommendation 6....................................................................................................................6
Recommendation 7....................................................................................................................7
Recommendation 8....................................................................................................................8
Recommendation 9....................................................................................................................9
Recommendation 10................................................................................................................10
Recommendation 11................................................................................................................11
Recommendation 12................................................................................................................12
Recommendation 13................................................................................................................13
Recommendation 14................................................................................................................14
Recommendation 15................................................................................................................15
Recommendation 16................................................................................................................16
Recommendation 17................................................................................................................17
Recommendation 18................................................................................................................18


 The Flood Mitigation Committee reviewed the 2002 draft mitigation strategy and found that a substantial volume of material was still relevant to government departments in 2006. Since the draft strategy provided general guidelines for ongoing functions within departments, many of the items are still part of a valid flood mitigation program four years later. For example, Alberta Environment has collected, does collect and will continue to collect flood information during flood events.
Municipal participation is a key element in a flood mitigation strategy. Municipalities are the front line in delivering many important aspects of flood mitigation because they are ultimately responsible for approving development in their communities. In addition, municipal governments often have idea of potential flood mitigation measures that are appropriate for their local areas and the relative costs of such proposals. Shrubsole et al. (2003) state that failure to communicate and equip municipalities with the resources that they need to make responsible decisions has been a major downfall of many flood mitigation programs.
This report documents the efforts of the Flood Mitigation Committee to examine measures to lessen the impacts of river and stream flooding on Alberta communities with an identified risk. It includes the results of an extensive municipal consultation process and concludes with draft recommendations.
3. Activities of the Flood Mitigation Committee
The Flood Mitigation Committee was struck in the fall, 2005. Committee members collected information on previous and ongoing government efforts towards flood mitigation in Alberta. During the winter, information was reviewed and the committee’s comments on the 2002 Draft Flood Mitigation were documented.
A consultation process was initiated in March 2006 with municipalities to gauge the level of municipal support for the ideas within the mitigation strategy, to determine the extent of knowledge regarding local flood mitigation needs and the costs associated with flood mitigation for the municipalities. The consultation was limited to areas with an identified flood risk as defined by the provincial flood risk mapping program. Focused on urban communities, flood risk areas identify the areas most likely to benefit from appropriate land use decisions by reducing the potential for flood damage in these flood prone areas. A list of municipalities, scheduled meetings and committee representation at the meetings is listed in Appendix B.
4. Consultation Results and Recommendations
The results of the municipal consultation process showed an overwhelming support for concepts within the draft flood mitigation strategy with a minimum of 79% support and up to 100% for some aspects of the strategy. This section discusses the key concepts in the draft strategy. The complete recommendations, degree of support and potential lead departments are provided in Appendix C. Hart (2006) details the results of the municipal consultations in a report titled “Consultations with Communities at Risk”.

 After reviewing the responses on the 16 draft recommendations presented, the Flood Mitigation Committee rephrased some of the original recommendations and added two additional recommendations to produce a set of 18 recommendations for a provincial flood mitigation program. The goal of the flood mitigation program is to reduce damages in Alberta in the event of a major river flood. The full recommendations, report of community support and potential methods of implementation are contained in Appendix C. A summary of the recommendations follows.
Target: Alberta has the resources available to make informed decisions about flood risks.
Recommendations:
1. AENV coordinate the completion of flood risk maps for the identified urban flood risk areas in the province.
2. AENV develop a map maintenance program to ensure that the flood risk maps are updated when appropriate.
3. AENV identify priority rural flood risk areas that require flood risk mapping and develop a program to prepare the maps.
4. AENV co-ordinate the determination of the 1:100 year still water lake elevation for all gauged lakes in the province.
5. AENV continue to collect high-water elevation, aerial photography and other appropriate data whenever a significant flood occurs and share this information with local authorities. Alberta Environment should continue to explore and evaluate other methods of collecting flood data such as satellite imagery.
6. AENV make historic flood information available to the public on its web site. Suitable information would include historic high-water elevations, flood risk reports, and flood photography.
Target: Alberta municipalities have the support they need through additional education, guidelines, regulations and programs to encourage appropriate future developments in flood prone areas.
Recommendations:

7. The Minister of Environment designate a flood risk area after the responsible local authority has had an opportunity to review the maps and provide comments on the technical elements. The recommended time period for designation is within six months of receiving the maps.
8. A notification system be established that will inform any potential buyer that the property is located within a designated flood risk area.
9. Alberta Municipal Affairs, in consultation with Alberta Environment prepare an information bulletin on the subject of planning for flood-prone lands to be circulated to municipalities.
10. The flood mitigation strategy include a cessation of the sale of crown lands in known flood risk areas.
3
 11. The “Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Location of New Facilities Funded By Alberta Infrastructure” be followed when province constructs or contributes funding towards new facilities.
12. The provincial government develop programs to cost-share flood mitigation measures to protect existing development in urban and rural areas. The costs should be shared among the federal, provincial, and local governments. In the case of individuals, they could cost-share directly with the federal government.
13. Disaster Recovery Regulations be amended to prohibit disaster recovery payments for new inappropriate development in flood risk areas.
14. The provincial government continue to pursue amendments to the federal disaster financial assistance arrangements to allow federal funding for disaster recovery compensation for damages to appropriate development in flood risk areas.
15. The provincial flood mitigation strategy not include provincially operated or funded flood insurance.
16. The provincial government continue to support local authorities to educate their citizens on the flood risks to their communities.
Target: Alberta government continues to provide technical expertise to municipalities for river related flooding.
Recommendations:
17. AENV expand its forecasting network to provide an appropriate level of warning for all local authorities exposed to a flood risk.
18. AENV and MA work together to explore the potential for extending the provincial flood risk mapping program to an emergency mapping program.
5. Future Plans
After ministerial approval of this draft flood mitigation strategy, the next stage would be to develop an implementation strategy for the recommendations provided and to provide a forum for concerns that could not be addressed in the first stage of the strategy development such as flooding of aboriginal lands.
The implementation of some recommendations requires only a commitment of resources from the provincial government while other recommendations involve the federal and/or municipal governments. For recommendations that can be carried out by the provincial government, initiatives should be coordinated between ministries with clear direction for priority projects. Because of the inter-relationship between recommendations, it will be necessary to define the scope of each project, including when and how the benefit to Albertans will be realized.
The recommendation for a federal cost share program to provide flood mitigation to municipalities will be highly beneficial but will require resources from the provincial government before a program can be initiated. Without a definite response from the federal government, it may be difficult to justify diverting resources from other programs to design a community flood mitigation program that may or may not be federally funded.
4
Because of the large investment of money, the federal government may wish to participate in structuring the program, making it difficult for Alberta to proceed independent of the federal government. For this reason, it is vital to reach an understanding with the federal government before initiating this important aspect of the flood mitigation strategy.
The flood mitigation strategy recommends that municipalities be involved in everything from flood risk education to identifying flood mitigative measures for their local area. A process must be coordinated between the ministries to develop an effective approach. The municipalities need to be provided education and resources to facilitate their interactions with people within the community and with the provincial government. Since the municipalities are responsible for land use planning decisions, it is vital that municipalities are provided with the knowledge of flood mitigation and are well informed about any new programs or policies
6. Summary
Following the spring floods of 2005, a ministerial task force was struck to create a provincial flood mitigation strategy. Lead by G. Groeneveld (MLA, Highwood), a interdepartmental committee consisting of Alberta Environment, Alberta Transportation and Municipal Affairs prepared a draft flood mitigation strategy. The strategy focused on: (1) making resources available to make informed decisions about flood risks, (2) providing support to municipalities through guidelines, regulations and programs to encourage appropriate future developments in flood prone areas and (3) continuing to provide technical expertise to municipalities for river related flooding. Municipalities with an identified flood risk were shown, through a consultation process, to strongly support all of the recommendations provided for comment. If these recommendations are to be implemented, we recommend a project management team be assembled to create an action plan, finalize budgets, direct legislative reviews and identify additional staffing requirements.
7. References
Hart, D. 2006. Provincial Flood Risk Management Strategy: Consultations with Communities at Risk. Hart Water Management Consulting and AMEC Earth and Environmental. Calgary Alberta.
Kumar, Ashij, Ian Burton, and David Etkin. 2001. Managing flood hazard and risk: report of an independent expert panel. Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness. Government of Canada.
Shrubsole, Dan, Greg Brooks, Robert Halliday, Emdad Haque, Ashij Kumar, Jacinthe Lacroix, Harun Rasid, Jean Rousselle, and Slobodan P. Simonovic. 2003. An Assessment of Flood Risk Management in Canada. Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) Research, Paper Series No. 28.
 ************************************************************************************


See this part here?
6. AENV make historic flood information available to the public on its web site. Suitable information would include historic high-water elevations, flood risk reports, and flood photography.
Target: Alberta municipalities have the support they need through additional education, guidelines, regulations and programs to encourage appropriate future developments in flood prone areas.
Recommendations:


****************************************************************************

Why don't we have such public information on a government website.
If we cannot find out from developers that they are building on flood plain then we need to have this disclosed to us elsewhere.
And the government should stop further development on such flood plains.
If this had been in place--the regulation to stop development then this company would not have built this new development.
It would not have been allowed to.
Now because of the Alberta government's failure to follow the recommendations of this report the bill for taxpayers is enormous and the bill for the citizens of High Level is even worse in emotional toll, stress, and hard feelings. 

In addition to preventing municipalities from allowing development in flood plain areas the government of Alberta needs to map these areas promptly and not sell any crown lands for such development either as per this recommendation:



10. The flood mitigation strategy include a cessation of the sale of crown lands in known flood risk areas.

******************************************************************************
Because the provincial government messed up in failing to implement the recommendations of this report citizens will get minor compensation that won't cover the true bill for their destroyed homes that they never knew was on a flood plain.
The government of Alberta needs to ensure that this never happens again by putting laws in that in effect prohibit the sort of bail out of the corporate sector that we are doing now by paying for flood damages caused by developers who built on a flood plain and municipalities that permitted this sort of dumb development:
13. Disaster Recovery Regulations be amended to prohibit disaster recovery payments for new inappropriate development in flood risk areas.
***********************************************************************************

Why should citizens be stuck with the bad decisions of their elected hires and their failures to prohibit development of risky areas?
Why should citizens pay for the bad decisions over and over again?
I blame the Tories entirely for their failures to do their jobs with reference to the recommendations here and we can put the bill for at least this development on a flood plain in High Level on the failures to do what the report said to do.

Now go do it folks.
We've had enough human experimentation with the folks who believe in no regulation of any corporate sector and no oversight either.
Is this mess in High Level enough to encourage you all to do some oversight now?

Or more clearly --will you do your jobs now?

 The consultation involved many towns and yet nothing was done. Why not?

 http://www.aema.alberta.ca/901.cfm

Appendix B
Schedule of Meetings
Date

Location
Communities
Committee Member
April 19
Milk River
Milk River

George Groeneveld,
Doug Clark
April 27
Canmore
Canmore

Chandra Mahabir
Banff
Exshaw

April 28
High River
High River

George Groeneveld
Okotoks
Chandra Mahabir
Turner Valley
Black Diamond

May 19
Cochrane
Cochrane

George Groeneveld
Bragg Creek
Jim Choles
Airdrie
May 25
Drumheller
Drumheller

George Groeneveld
Rosebud
Chandra Mahabir
May 26
Medicine Hat
Medicine Hat

George Groeneveld,
Nancy Hackett
Saba Gnanakumar (AENV)
Rose Hall (AENV)
May 31
Camrose
Camrose

Arbind Manali
Millet
June 6
Sundre
Sundre

Markerville
George Groeneveld
Chandra Mahabir
Jim Choles
June 9
Fort MacLeod
Fort MacLeod

George Groeneveld
Lethbridge
Denis McGowan
Pincher Creek
Crowsnest Pass
Cardston

June 12
Red Deer
Red Deer

George Groeneveld
Ray Keller
June 22
Redcliff
Rose Hall (AENV)
June 27
Barrhead
Barrhead

George Groeneveld
Whitecourt
Arbind Manali
Sangudo
June 28
St. Albert
St. Albert

George Groeneveld
Ft. Saskatchewan
Nancy Hackett
Lamont
Radway

June 29
Lacombe
Lacombe

George Groeneveld
Alix
Jim Choles
Stettler
1
Appendix B
Date
Location
Communities
Committee Member
July 5
Fort Vermilion
Fort Vermilion

George Groeneveld,
Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
Chandra Mahabir
Evan Friesenhan (AENV)
July 7
Drayton Valley
Drayton Valley

Jim Choles
Birchwood Village Green (Bucklake Creek)
July 10
Calgary
Calgary

George Groeneveld
Pine Creek
Chandra Mahabir
July 18
Ponoka
Ponoka

George Groeneveld
July 19
Thorsby
Thorsby

No Committee member present
July 20
Hinton
Hinton

No Committee member present
August 8
Carbon
Carbon

Brian Mallett (AENV)
August 9
Edmonton
Edmonton

Arbind Manali
Rochester
August 15
Grande Prairie
Grande Prairie

Nancy Hackett
Rycroft
August 17
Slave Lake
Slave Lake

Denis McGowan
Kinuso
Adam Armitage-Conway
Marten Beach
August 21
Vegreville
Vegreville

Ray Keller
Two Hills
September 7
Peace River
Peace River

George Groeneveld
High Prairie
Chandra Mahabir
Watino
Manning
September 12
Fort McMurray
Fort McMurray

George Groeneveld

Recommendation 1
We recommend that Alberta Environment coordinate the completion of flood risk maps for the identified urban1 flood risk areas in the province.
It is important to know the areas of the province that are at risk from flooding so the extent of risk can be determined. Accurate mapping that defines the extent of flood risk areas forms the foundation of the Flood Risk Management Action Plan. Once the flood risk area is identified, steps can be taken to protect existing and future development. Failure to act on the information may expose local governments to liability from affected landowners.
Alberta signed a cost-sharing agreement with the federal government to map flood risk areas in the province in 1989. This agreement was terminated before all the identified communities could be mapped. As of 2006, there are 36 communities that require flood risk studies. This recommendation refers to new studies and does not address map maintenance issues. They will be dealt with in Recommendation 2.
Community Response
Ninety-nine out of 100 responses either supported or strongly supported this recommendation. Flood risk mapping was recognized as an essential planning tool. There were questions about terminology and other issues related to flood risk maps indicating a need for ongoing education for local governments. There also several communities and locations that suggested to be added to the list.
Resources Required
Budget Required - $2.5 million over 5 years.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
1 This refers to the 66 communities that were listed in “An Agreement Respecting Flood Damage Reduction and Flood Risk Mapping” signed in 1989 between Alberta and Canada.
1
Appendix C
Recommendation 2
We recommend that Alberta Environment develop a map maintenance program to ensure that the flood risk maps are updated when appropriate.
Situations may arise where an existing flood risk map no longer adequately represents the flood risk for a location. This may result from changes in the river or immediate area, updating a rural flood risk map or errors in the original study. Flood risk maps should also be reviewed regularly particularly after extreme flood events when public and municipal government interest is high.
Community Response
This is a new recommendation and so the communities did not have an opportunity to comment on it. There were several community comments related to Recommendation 1 that indicated that they saw a need for a map maintenance program.
Resources Required
One full time employee (FTE) and an estimated budget of $50,000 annually.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
2
Appendix C
Recommendation 3
We recommend that Alberta Environment identify priority rural flood risk areas that require flood risk mapping and develop a program to prepare the maps.
It is recognized that rural flood risk mapping is a concern as there is intensive development occurring in rural areas that may be subject to flooding. It is also clear that rural flood-risk mapping cannot be to the same standard as the urban mapping as it would be prohibitively expensive to provide studies for large areas. A rural flood-risk mapping program was envisioned to be one whereby existing information such as aerial flood photos and high-water marks would be used to delineate a map. There would be no division of the flood risk area as occurs in the current flood risk maps. Also, mapping would be based on an historic flood event rather than a theoretical event. Areas identified as requiring flood-risk mapping, but not having any flood information would not be mapped until such information was available. In 2000, about 50 rural areas were identified as requiring flood-risk mapping, but only 25 had any existing information on flooding that could be used. Undoubtedly there would be more areas requesting mapping if the list were to be updated.
Community Response
There was strong support for this recommendation with no significant reservations about the lower level of accuracy.
Resources Required
An FTE position is required to for designing a rural flood risk program. Until the technical aspects of a rural flood risk program are defined, it is difficult to estimate the required resources; however initial estimates suggest that this program could exceed $1,000,000.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
3
Appendix C
Recommendation 4
We recommend that Alberta Environment co-ordinate the determination of the 1:100 year still water lake elevation for all gauged lakes2 in the province.
To provide flood information for development around lakes, Alberta Environment will coordinate the calculation of the frequency curves for gauged lakes in the province where appropriate. The 1:100 year lake elevation would apply to the entire lake. Developers would combine this water level with setup and wave calculations to define the risk area around lakes.
Completion of this project will not provide frequency curves for all lakes in the province. Some lakes are ungauged or do not have sufficient data to perform the calculations. There are also lakes that have weirs or other complications that will make the calculations more difficult.
Community Response
Strong support for recommendation with no negative responses. Twenty-five percent of the respondents had no opinion but that probably reflected that it was not an issue for them.
Resources Required
This project was initiated in AENV but, due to lack of resources, has stalled. The cost associated with completing the project is $500,000 spent over 3 years and 6 months of FTE time.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
2 Gauged lakes refer to lakes that have water level recording gauges present.
4
Appendix C
Recommendation 5
We recommend that Alberta Environment continue to collect high-water elevation, aerial photography and other appropriate data whenever a significant flood occurs and share this information with local authorities. Alberta Environment should continue to explore and evaluate other methods of collecting flood data such as satellite imagery.
During flood events, Alberta Environment collects high-water marks and aerial flood photography to document the extent of flooding. This information can be used for future flood risk studies and to review existing studies.
Community Response
Unanimous support. Especially in the absence of a flood risk map, this information would be the only data available that a community could use to make a decision on whether to approve development or not.
Resources Required
Alberta Environment collects flood data as part of its mandate and will continue to do so. This information will be made available to local authorities
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
5
Appendix C
Recommendation 6
We recommend that Alberta Environment make historic flood information available to the public on its web site. Suitable information would include historic high-water elevations, flood risk reports, and flood photography.
Making historic flood information available on a website will also increase the public’s confidence in the flood risk mapping as they will be able to review the historic information and reports presented. It will also provide historic flood information for locations outside of mapped flood risk areas.
Community Response
There was strong support (99%) from the respondents with none opposing.
Resources Required
Budget required - $50,000 and 6 months of FTE time
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
6
Appendix C
Recommendation 7
We recommend that the Minister of Environment designate a flood risk area after the responsible local authority has had an opportunity to review the maps and provide comments on the technical elements. The recommended time period for designation is within six months of receiving the maps.
Designation is the formal acknowledgement of the flood risk area by the provincial government under Section 96 of the Water Act. It also marks the official start of any policies related to flood management within the flood risk area by the provincial and federal governments. Once an area is designated as a flood risk area, the local government is expected to take the flood risk into account when approving development, zoning or bylaws. The act currently allows the Minister of the Environment to designate a flood risk area after consultation with the municipality. There are currently no regulations in place to govern this section of the act.
Clause (2) (c) of Section 96 mentions that Disaster Financial Assistance may be restricted for flood damages to inappropriate development in a flood risk area constructed after designation.
Community Response
There was strong support for this recommendation (90%) but there were also questions about how the community would be impacted and differing opinions how strong the province’s role should be in this.
Resources Required
No additional resources required.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
7
Appendix C
Recommendation 8
We recommend that a notification system be established that will inform any potential buyer that the property is located within a designated flood risk area.
There is no requirement for landowners to divulge flood risk during the sale process but information is currently available. Alberta Environment maintains a website that shows provincial flood risk maps and study reports are available. This passive information is not routinely used in the real estate process.
Liens or caveats on the land titles, placed by the province, are not recommended, as this may not stand up in court. This method would also require a legislative amendment to supersede the land titles act.
We recommend that general flood risk information be added to the Alberta Registries site, SPIN II3. This is a website accessed by lawyers, registries, real estate agents and government departments to assess and identify various property hazards prior to purchase. Based on preliminary assessments, it is likely that SPIN II would serve as a link to Flood Risk Information System currently maintained by AENV rather than an independent flood risk information site.
Community Response
Over 80% of the responses from the municipal consultation supported this recommendation. Several communities did not support doing this through a caveat process as this was complex and would require legislative changes.
Resources Required
Estimated cost of $50,000 to $100,000 and 6 months of employee time.
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
3 SPIN II is a SPatial INformation system that provides information on land titles and is current used to identify hazards, such as soil contamination, that are associated with land properties.
8
Appendix C
Recommendation 9
We recommend that Alberta Municipal Affairs, in consultation with Alberta Environment prepare an information bulletin on the subject of planning for flood-prone lands to be circulated to municipalities.
Research and cross ministry discussions are required to determine the key topics for information bulletins. Community consultations indicate that more information on the following topics would be beneficially to their knowledge of flood mitigation: appropriate land use planning in flood prone areas, objectives of flood proofing, and flood event resources.
Once the content of the bulletins is determined, Municipal Affairs would distribute the bulletins. Bulletins related to municipal administration and planning are routinely produced by Municipal Affairs for distribution as part of the Municipal Administrator’s handbook. An information bulletin is a tool that provides advice and is not a regulatory tool or a prescriptive guideline.
The bulletin(s) could be distributed through the existing process that includes all municipalities or to selected
Community Response
This recommendation was supported by 98% of participants in the municipal consultation. There is strong agreement that municipalities need additional forms of support to make good planning decisions. An information bulletin is seen as such a support. The only concerns expressed were that municipalities will need to be reminded periodically that the bulletin is available to ensure that it continues to be helpful.
Resources Required
Municipal Affairs is unable to provide estimates of staffing and financial resources at this time.
Lead Department: Alberta Municipal Affairs
9
Appendix C
Recommendation 10
We recommend that the flood mitigation strategy include a cessation of the sale of crown lands in known flood risk areas.
Selling flood-exposed crown lands abdicates the responsibility to keeping Albertans safe to private landowners, and while the government as the first seller can ensure that the initial purchaser is aware of the risk, there is no certainty that the risk is communicated to future purchasers, renters or lease holders.
Selling lands in flood risk areas is the opposite of flood mitigation. The province loses its say in the use of these lands and any protective measures would need to be taken through cumbersome mechanisms such as legislation or regulations. Undeveloped flood plains are the natural and most effective form of flood mitigation, and this recommendation will protect those areas.
Long-term leases of crown land could be considered for appropriate uses such as parks, agri-business and golf courses.
The sale of flood-prone crown lands creates the potential for increased financial liability for the province in terms of Disaster Recovery Program funding that must outweigh the short-tem financial benefits of the sale. Any sale, while ensuring the buyers are aware of the risk before purchase could still be seen as condoning development in flood risk areas.
Community Response
The municipalities either cautiously endorsed the selling of crown lands if certain caveats were placed on the sale, or vehemently opposed the sale of crown lands at all.
Resources Required
None, although this would cause a loss of revenue from land sales
Lead Department: Sustainable Resource Development (Public Lands)
10
Appendix C
Recommendation 11
We recommend that “Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Location of New Facilities Funded By Alberta Infrastructure” to be followed when province constructs or contributes funding towards new facilities.
The guidelines mentioned above have been developed for selecting sites for buildings funded in whole or part by Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation. The guidelines also apply in the consideration of leasing complete or partial non-owned facilities. The guidelines are not standards or rigid requirements as it is extremely difficult to set specific criteria for site selection.
Community Response
The concept was supported by 84% of participants. Primary concerns were that the municipalities do not know how much higher the 1:500 year and the 1:1000 year flood levels will be and the additional costs to the municipalities that this would involve.
Resources Required
Continue to follow existing guidelines. No additional resources are required.
Lead Department: Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation
11
Appendix C
Recommendation 12
We recommend that the provincial government develop programs to cost-share flood mitigation measures to protect existing development in urban and rural areas. The costs should be shared among the federal, provincial, and local governments. In the case of individuals, they could cost-share directly with the federal government.
Rather than continue to pay damages after reoccurring flood events, a program is needed to encourage flood mitigation. Following the devastating Red River Flood in 1997, the federal government and the government of Manitoba initiated a provincial flood mitigation program to reduce future damages. Following the flood events of 2005, a similar flood mitigation program in Alberta could benefit all levels of government and Albertans. Reduced risk would benefit Albertans and reduced economic losses would be beneficially to the governments, particularly the federal government who pays up to 90% of Disaster Assistance claims for large flood events.
Flood mitigation options for existing structures may include activities such as land purchase, dykes, and retro flood proofing of buildings.
Community Response
79% supported the recommendation for the development of a flood mitigation program. Some municipalities were not comfortable with the cost-share concept and felt that little or no contribution should be required from the municipality.
Resources Required
After consultation with at risk municipalities, it is believed that the provincial cost of flood mitigation could exceed $300 million. 54 municipalities reported the need for flood mitigation. For many municipalities, the cost of flood mitigation was under $2 million per municipality. It is estimated that 42 municipalities could be protected for $32 million. For the other 12 municipalities participating in the consultation process, flood mitigation costs are substantial but may have a higher cost/benefit ratio.
It may be beneficial to study the relevant federal programmes that can be accessed or applied for to gain the monetary resources required to undertake a flood mitigation program to protect existing development.
Additional FTEs would be needed to develop and manage the program in all three ministries.
Lead Department: A project management team is required to develop a program and it is anticipated that AENV, MA and INFTRA would participate.
12
Appendix C
Recommendation 13
We recommend that the Disaster Recovery Regulations be amended to prohibit disaster recovery payments for new inappropriate development in flood risk areas.
Developments in flood risk areas constitute recurring financial liabilities for the province. Developments in flood risk areas also pose public safety risks, and should be discouraged. “An Agreement Respecting Flood Damage Reduction (DRP) and Flood Risk Mapping in Alberta” signed by Alberta and the federal government in 1989 included provisions for structuring disaster recovery compensation so that inappropriate development constructed within the flood risk area after designation would not be eligible for assistance. Any existing development in a municipality before the designation date would be grandfathered into the agreement; thereby allowing the existing development to continue to be eligible for disaster recovery compensation.
Community Response
There was a high level of support (89%) for this recommendation but there were a lot of questions concerning implementation on definitions and interaction with other recommendations.
Small municipalities support this as it limits their liability and increases their ability to refuse development permits. Often the pressures brought on small municipalities are very high to allow inappropriate development, and implementing this recommendation would allow small communities to shift the responsibility for halting development to the provincial government and avoid political repercussions on themselves
Large municipalities with significant amounts of riverside development oppose this as it halts development in very high value areas. This development however is not safe, and the financial consequences will be borne by the provincial DRP.
Resources Required
Staff time is required to clearly document and communicate the details of this amendment to municipalities. A process would be required to document which new developments will be covered and which will not. This would include a consolidation of up-to-date municipal maps and development permits currently under review. An additional FTE may be required for this supporting work.
Lead Department: Alberta Municipal Affairs
13
Appendix C
Recommendation 14
We recommend that the provincial government continue to pursue amendments to the federal disaster financial assistance arrangements to allow federal funding for disaster recovery compensation for damages to appropriate development in flood risk areas.
Disaster Financial Assistance from the federal government and Disaster Recovery Program funding from the province would encourage appropriate safe development over unsafe inappropriate development.
This assistance to appropriate development would be consistent with current rules for compensation for businesses and commercial operations. This funding is consistently quite low and exists primarily for owner-operated businesses.
Community Response
Those comments that supported this recommendation also frequently suggested setting a maximum allowable claim that would reflect the high potential for future flooding. There were suggestions that a flat rate be used for compensation regardless of actual use (ie: agricultural land could be compensated at the same rate as parkland or golf course).
Resources Required
No additional resources required
Lead Department: Alberta Municipal Affairs (Emergency Management Alberta)
14
Appendix C
Recommendation 15
We recommend that the provincial flood mitigation strategy not include provincially operated or funded flood insurance.
The existing Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) provides sufficient emergency funding to overland flooding. An American-style government insurance program would be a cumbersome, expensive and inefficient duplication of this program. Private flood insurance does exist for sewer-backup or sump-pit flooding. Provincially operated flood insurance would not increase safety of Albertans, increase recovery payments to flood-affected areas, decrease or mitigate flood effects or save money for the Province of Alberta.
Community Response
This is supported by comments from municipalities. 20% of municipalities did not support this recommendation, but their concerns about flood compensation are addressed by the existing DRP system, and reinforce that our DRP must be fair and provide reasonable compensation.
Resources Required
No additional resources required.
Lead Department: Alberta Municipal Affairs (Emergency Management Alberta to continue to lead the Disaster Recovery Program process).
15
Appendix C
Recommendation 16
We recommend that the provincial government continue to support local authorities to educate their citizens on the flood risks to their communities.
Education is a key element of a flood mitigation program and is provided by the government through websites and interaction with staff. Alberta Environment and Municipal Affairs play various roles in flood risk education.
Alberta Environment routinely provides support and education on the provincial flood risk program and river monitoring/forecasting programs. Education consists of website information, public meetings, municipal information sessions, and ongoing support for technical questions.
Municipal Affairs provides education on flood risks as part of the work of District Officers. Additional education occurs through special events such as Emergency Preparedness Week.
Community Response
Education as a flood mitigation strategy was strongly supported (99% support). Comments recommended improving both passive (website, web links) and direct (funding for local government education, education material for elected officials) educational activities.
Resources Required
Additional staff with technical knowledge need to be available to develop and deliver additional educational material. Recommend a minimum of 2 FTEs (one in AENV and one in MA).
Lead Department: Alberta Environment, Alberta Municipal Affairs
16
Appendix C
Recommendation 17
We recommend that Alberta Environment expand its forecasting network to provide an appropriate level of warning for all local authorities exposed to a flood risk.
Effective, consistent flood warning coverage should be provided throughout the province. As of 2006, 30 of 66 communities with an identified flood risk do not have flood forecasting warning procedures. Verbal communication with the local authority is the primary means of communication.
The provincial river ice program is focused on providing services for Fort McMurray and Peace River, although several other areas of the province experience river ice related problems. Additional resources are required to effectively monitor and communicate river ice related risks.
Community Response
This is supported by comments from municipalities, as it was 94% endorsed. Their concerns about forecasting were that all citizens should have the same level of service while being cost effective. Recommendation should include enhancements to existing warning and procedures, including flood proofing of existing infrastructure. The existing forecasting and forecasting network are seen as very valuable to municipalities.
Resources Required
• It was estimated that $3 million over five years is required to improve the forecasting data collection network. This does not provide resources for operation and maintenance of an enhanced network. An expanded network is expected to add an additional cost of approximately $400,000 annually to service contracts to operate the new installations.
• Alberta Environment estimates that another 8 FTEs would be needed to provide increased flood coverage. This results in an additional $1.5 million annually to provide operating budgets for the expanded monitoring and forecasting capabilities
Lead Department: Alberta Environment
17
Appendix C
Recommendation 18
Alberta Environment and Municipal Affairs work together to explore the potential for extending the provincial flood risk mapping program to an emergency mapping program.
The current flood risk identification program was designed to be a municipal planning tool. During the floods of 2005, many municipalities and government departments relied on this maps for emergency response. Although flood emergency mapping is a natural extension to the current flood risk mapping program, additional information can be added to the base knowledge contained in the planning tool to greatly increase the applicability for emergency response. For example, information on vital and lifeline structures (schools, hospitals, etc.) that may be impacted during events greater than the municipal planning event (generally 1:100 year return frequency) should be readily available during a flood event.
Community Response
This is a new recommendation. It is anticipated that municipalities would strongly support this extension to the existing flood risk planning program.
Resources Required
A pilot program would require participation from River Engineering (AENV), River Forecasting (AENV) and Emergency Management Alberta (MA) to determine the elements of an emergency map. One FTE for River Engineering would be required to support this pilot program. The required funding is dependant on the size of the municipality and model method applied within the flood risk study. For example, costs for emergency mapping for Calgary could exceed $200,000 but may be less than $20,000 for Didsbury.
Lead Department: Alberta Municipal Affairs
18

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How much will the Alberta floods 2013 cost taxpayers?
Good question.
Let me try to find out:




Flood cost will top $1B but Alberta GDP will rebound fast, TD says

Bank says between $500 million and $1.5 billion will be subtracted from Alberta's output this month due to flood

Posted: Jun 27, 2013 12:13 PM ET

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2013 1:45 PM ET

TD Bank says Alberta's GDP will be 0.3 per cent smaller than it would have otherwise been this month, because of the flooding. TD Bank says Alberta's GDP will be 0.3 per cent smaller than it would have otherwise been this month, because of the flooding. (Andy Clark/Reuters)


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TD Bank says Alberta's economy will likely be quick to rebound from the flooding that has swamped Calgary and other parts of the province, although it says there are several unpredictable factors that could affect the recovery.
The bank's economic unit estimates that between $500 million and $1.5 billion will be subtracted from Alberta's output this month — about 0.3 per cent of the province's GDP — but predicts that shortfall will be made up in July.
The annual Calgary Stampede will be a wild card, it says, because flood damage to Calgary hotels may limit the number of visitors to the city, though that could be offset by increased support from Calgary residents.

Oil and gas industry unscathed

On the whole, TD expects the flooding will have little impact on Alberta's oil and gas industry, which accounts for about 29 per cent of the provincial economy.
It says Alberta's retail, wholesale, rail and utility services will likely suffer the biggest economic fallout from the floods.
TD Economics also says rebuilding efforts and increased government spending could actually boost Alberta's gross domestic product in the latter half of 2013.
As a result, the bank is increasing its growth forecast for the Alberta economy by half a percentage point to three per cent in 2013 and to between 3.5 and 3.7 per cent in 2014 from the 3.3 per cent it predicted earlier.
Ted Menzies, the junior minister of finance in whose riding the hard-hit community of High River is located, said that right now it is "very difficult" to assess the effect on the economy.
"It's pretty difficult to even have a handle on what the costs are," Menzies said in answer to a question from a reporter.
"We saw railroad cars that were standing on their side. We saw homes that were pushed off their foundations hanging in the river. I would suggest that no one actually has a number on this."
However, Menzies said there was "no doubt" that there would be an impact on both the Alberta and Canadian economies.
"(Finance) Minister (Jim) Flaherty is well aware of that," he said. "We've had discussions and it's going to be a challenge, but we will be shoulder to shoulder with the province to make sure whatever eligible expenses are there, whatever the costs are, whether it's infrastructure or whether it's uninsured homes, we will be able to support Canadians."
Asked if the floods would have an impact on his government's ability to balance the federal budget, he said it was "pretty premature to suggest that because we have no idea of the number."
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So this article says $1 billion in lost output for Alberta but doesn't tell us what the costs of repair will be.


 In addition, the provincial and federal governments aren't giving us any figures.

Besides the cost to clean up the mess, there are the costs from business losses that appear to be rather more than the costs for repairing the damages. This next article seems to indicate that the costs for economic losses ---will be more than the rather conservative $1 billion indicated by the first article and it does give us some indication for the costs to repair the mess:


Preliminary estimates of damages range between $3-billion and $5-billion, BMO analyst Tom MacKinnon said in a note to clients Monday. Losses after insurance could reach $3.75-billion, he said.





Economy

Alberta flooding could wipe $2-billion from Canadian economy in June


| | Last Updated: 13/06/26 4:27 PM ET
More from Jeff Lewis | @JeffALewis
A high view shows the flooding at Bow River where water covered an island next to the downtown core, in Calgary, June 22, 2013.
Dave Buston/AFP/Getty ImagesA high view shows the flooding at Bow River where water covered an island next to the downtown core, in Calgary, June 22, 2013.
CALGARY – The worst flooding in Alberta’s history could knock $2-billion off the Canadian economy in June, according to BMO Capital Markets.

‘Come hell or high water’: Stampede to go on as Calgary counts cost of ‘unprecedented’ floods

The president of the Calgary Stampede says the world-famous event will go ahead next week — quote — “come hell or high water.”
Bob Thompson says crews have been pumping millions of litres of water from the rodeo grounds, which were swamped last week by extensive flooding that hit much of southern Alberta.
Continue reading.
Much of southern Alberta has been under a state of emergency after record water levels on the Bow River steamrolled through municipalities and downtown Calgary, the province’s largest city.
Canada’s energy capital continued to pump out and began assessing damages as the deluge subsided Monday, four days after the Bow and Elbow Rivers first breached their banks, swamping the downtown and leaving thousands homeless and without power.
Preliminary estimates of damages range between $3-billion and $5-billion, BMO analyst Tom MacKinnon said in a note to clients Monday. Losses after insurance could reach $3.75-billion, he said.
“The province comprises 6.5% of the national economy,” said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist with BMO. With tourism expected to dry up and construction and retail activity effectively on hold, the flood-related hit could shave one-tenth of one percentage point, or roughly $2-billion, from Canada’s GDP growth in June, he said.
“That’s just the initial negative impact,” he said in an interview. “Of course when the water’s all gone and consumers go out to replace stuff that’s damaged, that could be offset completely.”
One exception is tourism. “Obviously that’s going to be pretty hard hit,” Mr. Kavcic said. “And that’s something you don’t make up.”
Lorraine Hjalte/Postmedia News
Lorraine Hjalte/Postmedia Newshe Calgary Stampede grounds are covered in water and mud on June 23, 2013.
Officials with the Calgary Stampede have vowed to press on with the annual rodeo, but much of the festival grounds was inundated with water during the worst of last week’s deluge.
The city’s iconic Saddledome, which hosts concerts during the festival and seats more than 19,000 people, was filled with water as high as the eighth row at one point.
“It’s a mess,” Calgary Flames chief executive Ken King told reporters over the weekend. “It is a total loss of the event level.”

 *********************************************************************************

 Really it all makes my head spin.

I will leave you with Susan's lucid summary of the mess since I can't sum up the aftermath consequences and payouts for you:


http://susanonthesoapbox.com/2013/06/30/were-all-in-this-together-sort-of-the-alberta-flood-2013/

We’re all in this together–sort of. The Alberta Flood 2013

Nobody said it better than the Dairy Lane Cafe and the Blue Star Diner in a sunny (literally) little poster announcing that on Canada Day every penny received from sales and tips would be donated to flood relief.  The blue banner “We’re All in This Together” epitomized the can-do attitude of Calgarians, indeed all Albertans, who pulled together to assist the victims of the worst flood in Alberta’s history.
Why do people donate? 
Economist Lise Versterlund offers two theories of charitable giving: (1) the “public benefit” theory–an altruistic desire to help without wanting anything in return, and (2) the “private benefit” theory which refers to the uniquely personal reasons a person donates such as a need for social recognition or the desire to share one’s good fortune.
Whatever the reason 84% of Albertans made charitable contributions in 2010.  And guess what, in times of trouble, people donate even more.
Why do people give more to victims of natural disasters?    
Volunteerism and charitable contributions hit all time highs in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  Why?
Psychologist Hanna Zageflkast attributes the surge in generosity to the “Just World Belief”.  Apparently we have an inherent need to believe that the world is just.  If the world is “just” and some people still need charity, then it’s somehow their fault.  They’re lazy, they’re alcoholics or drug addicts, they didn’t study hard enough in school, etc.***Yes, this is a simplistic and incomplete explanation because it doesn’t address the root cause of alcoholism, addiction or the inherent inequality of society.  Dr Zageflkast doesn’t say she shares the Just World Belief, just that others hold it.
Natural disasters are not part of the “Just World”.  They are acts of God (this statement alone could take us off on an interesting tangent).  Consequently we attach no blame to a hapless souls caught in the path of an overflowing river.  We see them as innocent victims.  We perceive them as making more of an effort to help themselves and are prepared to reward them for being proactive.
What happens when the “choice” to donate turns into an “obligation” to fund?
I applaud Premier Redford’s decision to provide relief to all Albertans affected by the flood, but I’m deeply troubled that her promise is unconditional and question her decision not to impose a cap on rebuilding every home damaged or destroyed in the flood.
Here’s why.  Disaster sociologist Timothy Haney points out that in the past North American floods destroyed low-income neighbourhoods;  middle and high-income neighbourhoods were untouched.  Not so in Calgary where affluent neighbourhoods like Elbow Park were flooded along with lower-income neighbourhoods like Bowness and Montgomery.
Mr Haney says that this makes the “dynamics of recovery” markedly different from past floods because “the people most affected will have significant resources at their disposal”.****
I’m sure they do.  The tough question is this:  Are high-income homeowners prepared to use their own “significant resources” to rebuild their million dollar homes given Ms Redford’s unconditional promise that Albertans’ tax dollars will underwrite the cost of rebuilding?
We’re all in this together…but maybe not to the same degree
The Alberta situation is complicated.  There are no provincial regulations in place to prevent new construction in flood risk areas.  There is no flood insurance available for people who’ve purchased homes in flood risk areas.  The homes in flood risk areas are owned by high, middle and low income homeowners.  Given these facts it would be harsh to penalize everyone whose homes have been damaged or lost in the flood.  But that doesn’t mean that Alberta taxpayers should fund the reconstruction of a Carrera marble ensuite bathroom in Elbow Park.
In my view Premier Redford’s one-size-fits-all solution works as the foundation for charitable flood relief program, but it’s utterly misguided for a tax based flood relief program.
The government says the reconstruction payments will come from “cash on hand”.  This readily available cash was not “on hand” a week ago to maintain, let alone improve, the quality of Alberta’s healthcare and educational services.  Presumably it will come from the $3.5 billion contingency fund.  In any event it doesn’t matter—it’s all tax dollars.
Given that the $1 to 5 billion reconstruction plan is funded by tax dollars, I as a taxpayer, wish to make the following alternative proposal:
  1. Reconstruction payments should be capped at the average house price for Calgary, High River, Canmore, or wherever the flood damage occurred.  Using the Calgary example, the maximum payout would be $480,000 (the average house price in 2012). Homeowners whose houses were worth more would be expected to make up the balance or downsize their expectations.
  2. The government should implement, on a going-forward basis, the recommendations in the Groeneveld report which included a ban on disaster recovery payments to homeowners who built new homes in flood risk zones.
  3. The government should develop a flood insurance scheme similar to the hail insurance program provided pursuant to the Agricultural Financial Services Act so that homeowners who live in flood risk zones will be able to purchase flood insurance as a safeguard against future flood damage.
We’re all in this together is the right motivator for charitable contributions, but when scarce tax resources are being diverted to rebuild the homes of the wealthy it’s every man for himself.
* “Why do People Give?” in Richard Steinberg and Walter W. Powell eds., The Nonprofit Sector, 2nd edition, Yale Press, 2006
**StatsCan Website http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2012001/t/11637/tbl04-eng.htm
***http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110114082432.htm
****Edmonton Journal Online, June 28, 2013


31 Responses to We’re all in this together–sort of. The Alberta Flood 2013

  1. jane walker says:
    …. and what of the aboriginal communities in the south that have thus far received far less ‘outside’ assistance?
  2. Rene says:
    The real scandal here is that homeowners, through no fault of their own but due to deliberate exclusion by their insurers, are facing potential total loss or significant catastrophic loss on uninsured properties, not only due to insurer’s avoidance of compensation for such loss, but also in large measure due to their inability to access their property within reasonable time and mitigate their losses. If many have to wait several weeks before they can begin cleanup and repairs, significant loss becomes total loss.
    Now it would be a different story if their home insurer accepted responsibility for such loss and communicated this to their policyholders, here homeowners would be guaranteed proper cleanup, repairs and settlement in accordance with building codes, insurers would accept responsibility for any delays, and homeowners would likewise be compensated for additional living expenses during the period of delay, more than the measly $ 1200 the Alberta government is offering, adequate for a few days but clearly inadequate for a delay extending to one month or beyond.
    Where not only the Harper government, but all political parties in the House of Commons, as well as provincial legislatures, are at fault is in allowing the Canadian insurance industry to avoid its responsibilities and opt out of compensation for such losses, leaving government to partially and inadequately foot the bill, leaving homeowners with inadequately restored properties and enormous losses…
    Which brings up the issue of public insurance, as you suggested, and I am surprised the NDP is not campaigning on such issue as the current flood disaster in Alberta provides the perfect argument for such a program, given the blatant market failure of the Canadian insurance industry due to deliberate exclusion of overland flood coverage on homeowner policies and inadequate coverage for catastrophic loss on mortgaged properties, which the same financial institutions are quite prepared to sell mortgages on. If government and/or the Canadian taxpayer is expected to step in and compensate or partially compensate homeowners for inadequately restored properties the insurance industry deliberately avoids to cover for catastrophic loss, government may as well step in, issue the policy coverage on such properties, collect the premiums, control the cleanup and restoration to ensure everything is properly done to building code, and issue the appropriate settlements…
    • Rene, welcome to the Soapbox. Excellent analysis of the issue with respect to the insurers’ failure to provide coverage. I assume their argument is that the risk is too great, but insurers tolerate much greater risk exposure when they provide coverage for complex industrial projects like the BP Deepwater Horizon rig (insured for $560 million). I’m sure that the cost of insurance for the oil and gas industry skyrocketed following the Macondo blowout, but it’s still available.
      Interesting observation about the NDP not picking up the cause and running with it. We’ve experienced three major floods since 2005, we can’t continue to tap the taxpayer to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.
  3. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:
    The money you earn is yours to spend as you wish, but when it comes to tax dollars and charitable donations I believe that the funds should all be divided equally. We are all eating from the same pot and must share.
    • Rose, welcome back! Yes we’re all eating from the same pot and it has to cover health, education and a myriad of social services so I’m afraid the wealthy are on the hook this time. Rene’s point that the provincial (and federal) government dropped the ball by not pressuring the insurance companies to step up to the plate is even more infuriating when you realize that the provincial government ignored the Groeneveld report which set out a number of recommendations which would have cost $306 million to implement. Who knows how much damage, including the loss of human life, could have been avoided, had the recommendations been adopted.
  4. Carlos Beca says:
    It is still too early and so I will not post what I would like to but I want to say something that really infuriates me every time we have a catastrophe like this one. Albertans vote for the PCs in great numbers and claim that paying taxes is a waste of money and that government should stay out of our lives blah blah blah – the neocon song that makes my skin itchy, but when it happens it does not matter if it is rich or poor, they all complain govenment does nothing, money is slow coming, the help is inadequate and on and on. Well my friends if you want a strong government that can adequately help you when necessaryt you need to pay taxes to cover the costs, that is called civilized society and if you want it you do not vote for a party that wants to weaken the government and destroy public cohesion. Remember that it was one of the great promoters of this current ideology that said ‘There is no such thing as a society: there are men and women and there are families’ (Margaret Thatcher)
    Calgary is especially known for being great fans of very right wing ideology but obviously not when the crap hits the fan. Keep voting for PC and Wildrose and one day your descendants will have to suffer what happened in New Orleans if not worse.
    • Carlos, thank you for reminding us of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous comment. It’s not the right philosophy. I would counter it with Oliver Wendell Holmes’ famous statement: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” It appears as the first of “10 Big Reasons To Feel Good About Taxes” posted on the Canadians for Tax Fairness site and accompanied with this statement ” More specifically, taxes are the price we pay for the Canada we love.” Here’s the link: http://www.taxfairness.ca/page/10-big-reasons-feel-good-about-taxes.
  5. Roy Wright says:
    This topic is quite near and dear to Mr. Soapbox and as an urban planner, I feel the need to wade into the suggested resolutions outlined by Mrs. Soapbox. While I can agree with all three steps in the mitigation plan, I feel we need to go further so we are not faced with similar fiscal catastrophes in the future.
    Firstly, urban planners and engineers often talk about the one in a hundred year flood and design accordingly. The City of Calgary and the province have mapped how such a flood would cover Calgary. It is important to note that there are three definitions of waters when looking at flooding. There is the floodway (river channel for the flow of water), the flood fringe (areas inundated by floodwaters) and finally overland flow (inundated by a shallow overland floodwater).
    My recollection of these flood risk maps, just recently approved by the City as part of its Land Use Bylaw, showed much smaller geographic areas impacted with a one in a hundred year flood than the newspaper maps that indicated flooding in a much wide expanse of Calgary. My first question has to revolve around whether this flood was greater than a one in a hundred year flood, or were the City maps too optimistic. It is important to ensure we understand the probability of such an event occurring again.
    Ms. Soapbox suggests that some amount of taxpayer money be spent on renovating these homes. However, I would suggest we put in another requirement before allowing the money to be spent on such houses. We should require all renovations follow the City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw that require certain building designs if the property is located in the flood fringe or in the overland flow areas. (If you have a house in the floodway, it should not be replaced under any circumstance). Those requirements include:
    -designed in such a way to prevent structural damage
    -first floor above designated flood level (which is why we need to assure ourselves we have projected the right level of the one in a hundred year flood)
    -all mechanical and electrical above designated flood level
    - (overland flow areas) – first floor must be 0.3 m above the highest grade on the parcel
    However there are weasel clauses within this part of the bylaw that allow people to escape such requirements. If you are in the flood fringe and the house was built before 1985, it does not apply. If the existing area was designed to accommodate urban residential it also does not apply. In the case of overland flow areas, the best before date is 1999, unless of course the existing area was designed to accommodate urban residential. That means most, if not all areas that were hit in the flood of 2013 appear to escape having to address such design issues.
    If those rules were applied to anyone wanting to rehabilitate with tax payer dollars after the flood, with no excuses, then I would suggest damages could be reduced in future when (and not if) the next flood hits. Coupled with the insurance scheme, I feel the fiscal outcomes would not be so devastating.
    • Good morning Mr Soapbox! I must admit it had never occurred to me that the engineering studies outlining which lands would be affected by a 100 year flood might be inaccurate (or in your words “optimistic”) and consequently even more homeowners could be at risk the next time the rivers overflow their banks. I understand that there is little most homeowners can do to mitigate the damage but if they were aware that they might be in danger they could at least make the structural improvements set out in the Calgary Land Use Bylaw. Based on your discussion of the “weasel clauses” it would appear that the Land Use Bylaw should be amended to made these structure improvements mandatory for all homes at risk of flood damage regardless of when they were built.
      In addition to cleaning up the flood damage caused by the 2013 flood the municipal and provincial governments need to clean up their regulatory regimes to ensure that when the next flood hits we’ve done everything possible to minimize the damage, both physically and financially.
      PS Please note my timely response…(dear readers, Ms Soapbox inadvertently forgot to response to a previous comment by Mr Soapbox and she never heard the end of it!)
    • I salute this thoughtful and informed response to a difficult issue (and the timely response from Mrs. Soapbox :-) ). It offers a starting point for what steps should be taken now for when (not if) the next flood happens.
      I would suggest another alternative to Mrs. Soapbox’s proposed restrictions on provincial help to the wealthy: Instead of using average house price (which includes land value) perhaps a better “limiting” factor for provincial support should be average square-metre replacement costs. Certainly, there needs to be some limit — some of these “victims” have net worth that measures in the billions. And of course Mr. Soapbox’s proposed conditions on rebuilding make sense. And if owners want to upgrade from that average cost with Carrera marble, they are welcome to spend the money.
      (Mrs. KfC observed a property where several hundred bottles of wine — I presume from a basement cellar — were “drying” out on the lawn. I trust that Alberta taxpayers are not going to be held responsible for re-paying any “damage” to this investment. :-) )
      And I also strenuously object to the idea that the insurance industry should be forced to provide policies offering protection to those who choose to build on flood plains. Who do they think is going to pay for this? Those of us who made the responsible decision to buy in areas where floods will never be a problem? There does come a time when you have to accept responsibility for the choice that you have made.
      If Mr. Soapbox is up to another contribution, I would appreciate it. A number of contributors here and elsewhere have advocated a total ban on flood plain development. Yet, “newer” buildings in Calgary’s Eau Claire (and I would presume the East Village, eventually) have been constructed to standards that minimize damage — yes, they were evacuated but my impression is that the “damage” is restricted to lower level parking floors and the living spaces were not effected. The last thing Calgary needs is a “hollowed-out” downtown (since it is a flood plain) with no residents — surely it is possible that sound standards can result in minimal disruption, with maximum benefit.
      • Thanks Kevin. I like your “means test”. It may be more flexible than my cap.
        I understand your objection to forcing insurance companies to offer policies for those who built on the flood plain. A combination of provincial regulations and municipal by-laws could be used to prevent NEW development in the flood plain. The Groeneveld report canvassed this proposal with the municipalities. It found that small municipalities liked the recommendation, partly because it shifted the responsibility for halting development to the province and avoided “political repercussions on themselves”. Apparently the developers exert a lot of pressure on local council (surprise). Large municipalities opposed this recommendation because “it halts development in very high value areas”. The recommendation went ahead nevertheless for safety reasons and because “the financial consequences will be borne by the provincial Disaster Recovery Program.” Unfortunately the government failed to implement this recommendation.
        The sticky issue is how to insure existing homeowners on the flood plain. The Groeneveld report suggested a number of flood mitigation options including land purchase, dykes and retro flood proofing, but gave no details on how these would work in practice.
        Mrs KfC’s observation of hundreds of bottles of wine on the lawn brought to mind the story I heard from my hairdresser. He and his co-workers were evacuated from the shop on one hour’s notice on Thursday afternoon and couldn’t return for a week. This was a significant hardship because if they don’t work they don’t get paid. My hairdresser is a caring guy. Not content to sit around he volunteered for clean up duty in Elbow Park. He was surprised to see private security guards posted at some doors and homeowners bemoaning the loss of their art collections (insured of course).
        Mr Soapbox says he’ll do a follow up post on the issue you’ve raised at the end of your comments. He thinks we can take further steps to “flood proof” the core without having to resort to hollowing it out. Calgary is becoming a great city. It needs a vibrant core.
  6. Rene says:
    The Canadian insurance industry does not have a justifiable rationale for the deliberate exclusion of overland flood coverage on homeowner policy other than their own precedent, inasmuch as they are quite prepared to insure commercial losses for overland flood damage. Moreover, overland flood coverage on residential properties exists in every other G8 country including Russia, not generally known for strong consumer protection practices. In addition, many of the larger Canadian insurers are international in scope and do operate in other G8 countries, where they do provide overland flood protection on residential properties. So what’s their argument for Canadian exceptionalism ? That their Canadian subsidiaries are less competent in calculating risk, setting premiums, purchasing reinsurance than their other operations.
    The Canadian government, and provincial governments, have been quite blind, ignorant and negligent with respect to this issue, I might even say deliberately so, to the extent that it takes a widespread disaster such as the current Alberta flooding to bring such issue to public attention, and even then politicians are simply accepting the insurance industry’s avoidance of its responsibilities as a given fact they have no control over and can do nothing about. When there is blatant and deliberate market failure such as with flood disaster, it is time for government to step in and force insurers to either do their job and face their responsibilities, or step aside and let government do it in their place..
    • Rene, great comments, especially the last sentence.
      I reviewed the Groenevel Report today. It recommended against a provincially operated or funded flood insurance program. Here’s their rationale: “The existing Disaster Recovery Program provides sufficient emergency funding to overland flooding. An American-style government insurance program would be a cumbersome, expensive and inefficient duplication of this program. Private flood insurance does exist for sewer-backup or sump-pit flooding. Provincially operated flood insurance would not increase safety of Albertans, increase recovery payments to flood-affected areas, decrease or mitigate flood effects or save money for the Province of Alberta.
      Rene, you clearly have expertise in this area and could shoot holes in this rationale (I hesitate to call it that) in a nanosecond. The things that pop to my mind are (1) the recommendation ignores the fundamental question you ask which is why do the politician continue to accept the insurance industry’s refusal to provide flood insurance and (2) such insurance would increase safety and decrease or mitigate flood effects if it was a condition of insurance that an existing home had to be retrofitted to be flood proof and new homes would NOT be insured if they were built in a flood prone area); furthermore a provincial insurance program would increase recovery payments and save the Province money because the insurance fund would grow over time and reduce the need to fund losses from “cash on hand”.
      Interestingly 20% of the municipalities consulted during this process did not support this recommendation (one wonders whether Calgary and Edmonton were among the dissenters) but were brushed aside with this comment “their concerns about flood compensation are addressed by the existing Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) system and reinforce that our DRP must be fair and provide reasonable compensation. Isn’t this where we came in?
  7. louloumic says:
    Could not agree more with all the comments.. Going back to your initial posting, where did this money come from and what exactly was it earmarked for? Their policy is to slash/slash/slash and what, hide money? Why have we had such cuts to our educational/health care programs when they had this $3.5 billion “cash on hand”?
    For years, people complained about Liberal Government policy’s while in power. Well, I can’t see how much better the Conservatives are.
    I am not well versed in urban planning. but it seems that Developers, like so many of our DEMOCRATIC, CAPITALISTIC entities, are all about obtaining top dollars for shareholders, and spending the most minimal amount of $ on safety, security any govt regulations? As for the folks building on the river, if they can afford multimillion dollar homes, good for them (maybe in the next life…), well, I can’t believe they would refuse to pay additional premiums (albeit, probably steep) to their Insurance Carriers if such insurance was available. Don’t get me started on the Insurance lobby. That being what it is, and while we are on the topic, haven’t corporations been running our governments? I heard this decades ago and it seems like it has and always will be swept under the rug.After all, money means power. But do our politicians not report to tax payers? Are they not responsible for doing due diligence? One has to wonder if all government officials can be bribed to allow industry to control our policies And why does the City of Calgary have its building regulations overridden?
    I don’t believe in “Acts of God”. We are responsible and should be held accountable for every questionable decisions we make. And Is there no one left in government who can stand by a strict code of ethics? I know many westerners hated Pierre Elliott Trudeau and how his energy policy affected the economy. However, could he speak his mind and stand by his convictions, good and bad or what?
    I decided long ago that politics was not be considered by anyone who has strong convictions, who follow the dictates of the people who elect them, and use their tax dollars judiciously.
    I hope as h— there is another life, ’cause this one is a mess. I know, I know, I do mostly see the positive but that does not mean my name is Pollyanna.
    From a former “Eastern bum” who has just about had it with the conservatives in this province (there have been some good ones but it seems so long ago)
  8. Rene says:
    Sorry I’m late with my responses, I’ve been busy carrying on similar arguments on other political blogs, such as Montreal Simon or Dr. Dawgs, but I’ll post some of my contributions which may clarify some points you and others raise…
    **************************
    And if you resided in High River, Alberta, you might be subject to catastrophic flood damage to a mortgaged property, which you are unable to access for the next four weeks, in order to mitigate an uninsured loss and prevent it from becoming total loss. And whereas you are insured with a private insurer who provided you with inadequate insurance, leaving you with potential total loss and a mortgage you are still responsible for, that’s fine with industry advocates, as the insurance industry knows what it is doing, so says Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney. So you are left to go begging hat in hand to your provincial government for disaster relief, while you hold a basically worthless policy of homeowner insurance in your hand. And you wonder what’s wrong with that picture.
    In the meantime, the industry which does have the professional resources to intervene, handle the loss, the cleanup, the restoration, the temporary living expenses, the overall settlement with respect to quality repairs and building codes sits on the sidelines, and government, with no qualified personnel, loss adjustors, restoration experts, building inspectors is expected to settle losses sight unseen, on the basis of receipts and invoices you mail in, with whatever finances and resources you might muster on your own, with unlicensed contractors you find by word of mouth who do improper and inadequate repairs, and you believe this is the proper manner in which to respond to such catastrophe, as, of course, private insurers “know what they are doing”. Exactly, they are avoiding their responsibilities.
    Why do you believe auto insurance is provincially legislated? I’ll tell you why. If they were not required to provide standard uniform coverage province-wide, there would be a hodge-podge of coverages and different policies, wherein drivers would in some regions be bereft of injury coverage, wherein some drivers would be denied coverage altogether and others would be denied theft coverage in regions with high incidence of theft.
  9. Rene says:
    Harper Conservatives believe in “laissez faire” economics, believe that financial institutions should be able to sell you a mortgage on a property requiring homeowner insurance, that the same financial institutions acting as insurance providers are entitled to sell you an inadequate insurance policy to cover the same mortgage, but opt out of their responsibilities through deliberate coverage exclusion and leave you shouldering the burden for catastrophic loss.
    I am not addressing my argument to Harper supporters, who if they are foolish enough to support such a government and its policies, including its hands-off approach to the practices of the Canadian insurance industry as opposed to those of other developed countries with respect to catastrophic flood loss, deserve the fate that nature has thrown at them.
    Unfortunately, many innocent parties have been thrust into such situation with no clear knowledge of the inadequacy of their homeowner coverage, and no option to purchase such coverage had they been aware of such inadequacy, and they are left with the burden of such losses. To those who do understand and accept the rationale of provincially legislated auto insurance, I would argue that the market failure of the Canadian insurance industry with respect to catastrophic flood loss on residential properties does point to the need for similar industry regulation.
    That is why there is government intervention in industry and in the marketplace. Otherwise we would have no health and safety regulations, no minimum wage, no standardized workday. The insurance industry in every other developed country has been able to accept such catastrophic risk, has been able to factor such risk into the costs of their policies, and deal with claims arising from such losses. Why should Canadian insurers be able to opt out simply because they are averse to the risk?
    Every other industry is subject to regulation they are not particularly happy with, be it safety rules and building codes for the construction industry or emission standards and safety requirements for the auto industry. What makes the insurance industry so special that no one dares interfere with the way they conduct their business? They have already been forced to provide uniform injury and liability coverage to auto policyholders, and moreover obliged to provide coverage to bad drivers they deem a high risk, what they term the facility market. The same principle holds with respect to the homeowner market, they should either be prepared to provide adequate coverage to all, or be prepared to step aside and allow government provide such necessary coverage, issue the policies, collect the premiums and settle the losses.
    We already are handling the crisis in the worst possible manner, in the sense of turning to government relief funds to cover uninsured losses, which amounts to the least effective, least efficient, most inadequate form of compensation for improperly restored properties, sight unseen. At least if the insurance industry is involved, against their own desires admittedly, in such loss investigation and settlement, they do have the resources to deal with such situations, to ensure everything is done effectively and efficiently, ranging from loss assessment to cleanup, repairs and allowances for delays, temporary living allowances, appropriate settlement to policyholders, and so forth. Given that you do have to twist their arms to force them to accept their responsibilities, and this would not be the first time such action was required, nor would it be the last, but it would be the best possible solution to the current dilemma facing homeowners subjected to such catastrophic loss.
    • Rene, the flood victims are starting to discover they just might have an insurance problem (as in “sorry bub, nothing for you”). This morning’s Calgary Herald featured a story with the headline “Insurance woes hit homeowners”. It describes the patch-work coverage provided by the insurance companies–some will provide insurance for sewer backup caused by the flood and others won’t.
      The article suggests that a policyholder who feels that his claim was wrongfully denied launch a lawsuit (mega bucks) or appeal to the General Insurance Ombusdservice (described in the article as “an arm’s length body funded by the industry”). The problem of course is that an insurance policy is a legally binding contract, so coverage or lack thereof, depends on the wording of the policy. If coverage is excluded under contract the judge or the GIO will have no power to give it to you anyways.
      I really liked your suggestion of getting the insurance industry to “donate” its loss investigation and settlement expertise to the government. It seems like the least the industry can do under the circumstances.
      PS no need to apologize for being “late”. This is a complex issue and you and others need time to get their thoughts together. Your input is much appreciated!
  10. Jane Walker says:
    What wonderful dialogue! Thanks so much to all …. it has been interesting,,to say the least!
    I am wondering if we could look at establishing a fund that will offer some grant funding and then low interest or no interest loans available to those who are challenged with these results of natural disasters.
    I am not in favour of private insurance coverage when I think of the insurance companies’ obligations to shareholders and their need to recoup their losses to re-establish their base from which they provide the assistance. These disasters would send insurance premius through the roof!
    I am not in favour of public insurance as it would require yet another government department to administer. The premiums would be relatively insignificant in covering admin costs and establishing the significant monies that would be required to be available to address the claims.
    Any event such as a natural disaster can be managed proactively to a certain degree but the extent can still be vastly destructive and the expense gargantuan …. as we have seen often lately!! Responsible fiscal management of a portion of our provincial revenue could establish an additional arm to our disaster relief fund and avoid the administration expense of a public insurance arm. We could leverage our assets to assist in resolution of these disastrous situations. We, as citizens, would all be contributing and thus know that we had a fair and appropriate safety net available for all who have been affected. The disaster effects would still be personally devastating but the worry of handling financial resolution would be significantly reduced.
    • Jane, I can certainly see your point that a public insurance program runs the risk of being expensive and bureaucratic. Furthermore it would provide the PCs with yet another opportunity to create a hand-picked Board to oversee the administration of the insurance organization a la the new Alberta Energy Board and the now defunct AHS Board and the last thing we need is more patronage appointments peppering the Alberta political landscape. This was the best I could come up with given the lack of insurance from the private market; what I like about your solution is that it provides a creative alternative funding mechanism to the public and private insurance proposals. The fact that we’ve been able to come up with alternatives to Redford’s disaster relief fund solution demonstrates that the government should not have dismissed the matter out of hand in 2005.
      I’ve been trying to find out more about how the private insurance market might work (Rene may have further insights here). The Calgary Herald ran an editorial yesterday arguing for mandatory private insurance for homes built in flood prone areas. The editorial referred to the US experience and suggested insurance rates that would range from $3500/year (for a home two feet above base flood elevation) and $17,500/year (for a home four feet below base flood elevation). This insurance would available to homeowners in flood prone areas and the premiums for the rest of us would not rise. Sounded fair at first blush.
      It will be interesting to see if the government decides to revisit this issue or whether it will continue to rely on taxpayers to foot the bill.
  11. Carlos Beca says:
    Well it seems another two fiascos growing for Alison ‘The Lost Soul’.
    This insurance business is nothing new and it works the same way as the private banks and markets. When things are up and money is just pouring in they just increase the fees so that even more is made to pay for the extravagant salaries and bonuses for the big wigs. When times are bad, they just pass the responsibility to the government and so they get the public money they want so they do not go broke. It is a great recipe really. Calgary floods are not any different and even the big million dollar homes will be paid by taxpayer’s money whether or not we agree with it. We know the routine. In the end it is all either our taxes or the public money so why bother with the private myth.
    The second fiasco which seems to be growing fairly fast in Edmonton and which it was obviously going to happen is the Home Care for our senior citizens. It is truly a mess and so far nothing is going well. Did anyone other than Fred Horne and Alison Redford, think this was going to be a winner? Well in one case I know, a senior in a lodge asked the representatives of the new spic and span company from Toronto how they expected to give better service and still make the hefty profits they all expect in the Health Care Industry? The answer was a BIG SMILE.
    • Carlos, thanks for bringing our attention back to the Edmonton Home Care situation. There’s been a lot of coverage of the Premier’s response to the flood, the media says she’s doing very well and that her approval ratings will rise. I’m very concerned about this for two reasons: (1) I don’t agree that her response, other than recognizing the need to eliminate red tape to help the flood victims and penalize scam artists, has been brilliant. The government took too long to declare High River a disaster area and her disaster relief fund is poorly thought out and (2) the halo effect from her flood response will cause Albertans to ignore the damage her budget cuts has caused to healthcare, education, seniors care, PDD etc.
      Photo ops in times of crisis do not excuse incompetence and a lack of compassion on the broader front.
      PS I was shocked by the response of the representative of the Toronto company to a legitimate question from a senior who will one day fall into the care of that company.
  12. Carlos Beca says:
    Susan I was not shocked with the big smile at all. By now I am fully trained on how lowering the standards in the name of privatization works. A Big Smile in the current dictionary means ‘What do you expect? Why are you even asking that question? You know exactly what is going to happen idiot’. Furthermore these people are too weak to even have any reaction to whatever comes and a lot of them do not even have a family member to help. Believe me, these companies know that very well and so do the Fred Hornes and Alison Redfords of this world. She is very good at taking photos with children and seniors and whoever else that can help with her puppy eyes but her actions are as bad as Ayn Rand.
  13. Julie Ali says:
    The cynical acts of this government with reference to any and all of our social issues are to be expected since they have had so much practice at poor governance.
    My question is -and it has so far not been answered is why the flood mitigation report was not promptly released and the recommendations in this report not followed?
    Taxpayers pay for these reports and yet we don’t hear anything about the information in these reports.
    If we look at the time line for the report (and by the way this wasn’t the first report) it is amazing to me that this government simply sat on its bum while it could have taken action years ago.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/recommendations-from-2005-alberta-flood-still-relevant-today/article12771618/
    Mr. Groeneveld’s report wasn’t the first flood study to sit in a drawer. Alberta prepared a draft flood mitigation strategy in 2002, but it remained a draft and was never published. Mr. Groeneveld’s committee reviewed it while preparing its report after flooding in 2005. “A substantial volume of material [from 2002] was still relevant,” Mr. Groeneveld’s report says. Alberta prepared a draft flood mitigation strategy in 2002, but it remained a draft and was never published. Mr. Groeneveld’s committee reviewed it while preparing its report after flooding in 2005. “A substantial volume of material [from 2002] was still relevant,” Mr. Groeneveld’s report says.
    That report recommended Alberta stop selling Crown land in known flood risk areas, saying doing so “abdicates the responsibility to keeping Albertans safe to private landowners… selling lands in flood risk areas is the opposite of flood mitigation.”
    Mr. Groeneveld says that’s still the most important recommendation.
    ***************************************************************************************************
    Frankly I see no reason to repeatedly pay money for replacement of houses that built contrary to common sense in flood risk areas.
    These areas should be mapped and quite simply taken off the market.
    If this sort of hard line policy is not adopted we are going to have a constant problem what with climate change altering the weather.
    I was just in Calgary yesterday and in the space of an hour –we had rain, hail and massive winds. The clouds were ferocious.
    On the way home from Calgary we passed roofs with hail collected in white snow caps in Airdrie; the roads were sequenced in hail nucleotides.
    These are interesting times in Alberta in terms of climate.
    And I do believe the climate change will ensure more flooding in the future.
    As I write this comment, it is pouring in Edmonton.
    So if the folks in power don’t get off their duffs to make hard decisions we are going to be experiencing ongoing floods and difficulties for citizens.
    In addition, this is going to be an ongoing taxpayer hole because as sure as cats make kittens, the insurance companies are not going to lose their major profits in easing a problem in the governance area of society. So what this means is that taxpayers will pay for everything as we usually end up doing when government fails at its job.
    If folks build in a flood prone area–the government must require insurance companies to cover these homeowners or set up a private insurance corporation that will charge major bucks for the privilege of getting flood insurance for these homeowners.
    In addition, homeowners must be warned when purchasing such homes of the risk of flooding in the area.
    My major annoyance is the failure of the Alberta Tories to do their jobs and the costs to the taxpayer for such derelictions of duties.
    We pay for everything.
    And yet when we ask for money for education, seniors, vulnerable children in the foster care system, that money is not there.
    Where is that money?
    It is there for bailing out the Tories at both the provincial and federal levels when they are shown to have failed at their jobs.
    It is either poor governance or outright corruption of our political hires as in the case of the mess at the PMO–with the Duffy case –where Nigel Wright hands over a $90,000 cheque to the Duffy for what reason pray tell?
    Surely it wasn’t to help out a friend?
    And the Prime Minister of Canada says that only Nigel Wright is involved despite the fact that we now have information that says three other folks in the PMO knew about the deal plus a Senator!
    It really makes me wonder if citizens will ever be able to hire a group of ethical and yes, competent folks to government or whether we will see good men and women alter themselves to fit the requirements of political life –which seem to be all about getting rehired at any cost.
    As for the flooding in southern Alberta, I am pretty sure it will be erased in the minds of taxpayers by the handing out of great sums of cash—the cash that wasn’t available for Edmonton Public Schools just recently— for there was no money to be had.
    I am beginning to think that citizens simply have to assume that government is just there to pontify and do the work of taking care of their families themselves. In other words, we live in Republican tea party Canada now and it’s every citizen for themselves.
    • Julie thanks for reminding us about the 2002 flood mitigation study, which as you indicate, stayed in draft form and which was partially incorporated into the 2005 Groeneveld, which as we all know, was not implemented.
      I’m with you on the point that replacing houses over and over again in a flood zone is lunacy and the province and the municipalities must take steps to restrict development to only those structures that are sufficiently flood-proof or carry sufficient insurance (public or private) to prevent their reconstruction from becoming a burden on the taxpayer.
      This flood has devastated the flood victims (homeowners and renters alike) and seriously damaged the local economy. Surely we’ve learned our lesson and will be better prepared the next time around. Like you I believe that things are only going to get worse, not better.
      “The roads were sequenced in hail nucleotides”. What a beautiful sentence. I love the fact that a poet activist is reading the Soapbox!
  14. Roy Wright says:
    I am following up on the suggestion from Mr. KFC that I might wish to comment on the notion that no more building in the floodplain be allowed. I had originally held off responding, hoping to gain more information on the status of downtown buildings, and some more details on the nature of the flooding (breaches, combined impacts of Bow and Elbow stream flows, and probability analysis (i.e.: 1:100 year flood or something worse). However, it is almost impossible to track down civic staff as the vast majority of the big blue building occupants will not be in their quarters until sometime in August…that is an interesting story all by itself!
    The commentary about not building in floodplains rises every time a catastrophic event occurs such as our 2013 flood. While I agree we should not build in floodways, building in the flood fringe (which includes part of the downtown and East Village) may be appropriate, provided a number of conditions are addressed. In the case of our downtown, Mr. KFC appears to be correct in stating recently constructed buildings appeared to survive with minimal damage and I would suggest the risk analysis would allow for continued building. Further protection may be warranted once we determine how the flood waters entered downtown. Was it backflow from the Elbow when it could not force itself into the faster flowing Bow? Was it the Bow breaching an embankment or some other freak circumstance? Once we determine how the water entered, we likely should figure out how to get it out quickly…was it trapped…I don’t know. Lastly, we need to determine just how frequently we could expect to see floods of such a magnitude.
    I am getting the impression that the biggest challenge facing downtown was issues associated with power. Transformers being flooded, electrical systems below the flood line all contributed to the delays in getting downtown back up and running. For example, the municipal complex appears to have lost its power generation and is relying on generators to get a couple of public access floors open. If electrical systems were above the flood level, that building might be fully operational already, rather than becoming functional sometime in August. I would suggest we need to re-think how we handle/locate power in the downtown, from individual buildings to Enmax transformers. The good news is that new commercial and multifamily buildings do not have the Land Use Bylaw exemption clause that single family homes can exercise in escaping from taking those extra precautions.
    I am sure these sorts of debates about how to make our downtown more secure are already occurring. Our downtown, given its incredible infrastructure replacement cost, is not going anywhere, so risk reduction strategies need to be sorted out and implemented.
    • Thank you Mr Soapbox. I share your concern about whether this was truly a 1:100 year flood, not so much from the perspective that if it was a 1:200 year flood the next one won’t be as damaging but rather from a concern that the old measures of severity are unreliable due to the impact of climate change. I’m not sure what to do about this other than to push the province and the municipality to enact strict regulations that prohibit any construction on a flood plain without the appropriate flood proofing (the correct placement of power sources would be one) and requiring flood insurance (public or private) if flood proofing to the appropriate level is not possible. Having said all that I wonder why anyone would want to live in the path of a river that overflows its banks on a regular basis! As you know Mrs Soapbox was ready to move out after the mouse invasion; the threat of a flood would make her crazy.
  15. Margie says:
    Our entire community of 305 dwellings on lease land on the Siksika Reserve has been destroyed in this flood. For some of our homeowners, it was their primary residence. For some it was a week-end residence. The majority of home owners were senior citizens – many had either retired there and wintered down south, or planned on doing so. The lease was up at the end of this season, so many of the owners had purchased property elsewhere, and were going to move their places out this fall.
    A major berm project was undertaken after the flood of 2005 and it was completed in 2011. This berm did little to stop this flood, though was very effective from 2006 through 2012.
    It has been 3 weeks since we were flooded. We are just now getting in to assess the damage. Health Canada and the Siksika Nation wouldn’t survey and release our homes until after they had finished doing the 200 homes on the Reserve. What wasn’t destroyed by twelve of more feet of fast flowing river, is now destroyed by the mold and contamination. I will see the wreckage at my place today. The insurance adjusters have been on site for several days, but it appears that no one will be covered for anything.
    We will all probably apply for Disaster Assistance, but that will likely only be available to Primary residents. The wording of the assistance refers to rebuilding on site, but there are not likely going to be any homes that can be rebuilt, and there is no new lease, so there is no site. Not sure whether the assistance plan rules will stretch far enough to provide assistance to any of us.
    Here is a link to historical flooding in Calgary. I don’t know if the suggested data correlates to your theory of climate change or not. I’ve lived in this province for over 60 years, and my dad has been here over 80 years – we’ve seen the ebb and low of this provinces climate several times in the past including the years when everyone said it was Global Cooling.
    http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/calgary-floods-it-could-happen-again/8295/
    This is the face of the flood for 305 families at Hidden Valley.
    • Margie, the legal ramifications of the situation you describe are mind boggling and remind us (well, me anyway) that nothing is a simple as it might appear on the surface. I sincerely hope that Redford’s government takes a careful and compassionate look at the devastation suffered by all the flood victims, regardless of their status as lessees, owners, primary residents or recreational residents and develops a protocol to treat them all equitably. I wish you the very best as you and your community travel down the difficult road to rebuilt (both physically and emotionally).
      Thank you for commenting and welcome to the Soapbox.
  16. Mark says:
    I agree with Susan. I feel bad for, and know some of the people affected by the flooding in Alberta. I am also aware, I researched before I bought my home and was aware of the homes that were on existing flood plains and stayed away from them. Though I pay the same insurance rates as many of them, this is everyone’s responsibility as due diligence when buying a home. The views afforded from living on a river weren’t in my price range for the most part anyway. Be reasonable folks, we have a moral responsibility to be helpful and concerned, but lets look at the what is reasonable as far as the taxpayers culpability in this. I slogged and got blisters on my hands from helping shovel muck out of areas affected, but our kids are still going to be paying to give these people blank cheques to rebuild their lives from money that just isn’t there. Wake-up calls always seem heavy handed, but lets go after the the approval parties and developers who should have known better in the first place.
    • Well said Mark. Years ago we bought a house close to, but not on the river. My husband said exactly what you said, this is a flood plain, that means it floods. I responded with a Pollyanna comment, on no it will never happen here. Luckily we were transferred before the flood of 2005 and didn’t have to go through the agony of clean up and rebuilding. What floored me was how many of our neighbours not only rebuilt but expanded their homes on the very same spot that had been ruined in the first place. Your comment that we go after the approval parties and developers is the right approach. Thanks and welcome to the Soapbox.




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