Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flood prevention and preparedness

To some Calgarians, flooding evokes images of cars driving through a foot of water or riverbanks overflowing. They might also think flooding only occurs in the spring and summer months, or that it only affects certain areas. 

However, according to The City’s Water Services, flooding can strike any community in any season and there are a number of causes.

Jared Serviss of Water Services says there are lots of causes of flooding that aren’t related to river levels.

“There could be a plug in the sanitation system, which could back up into the basement or debris could cause eaves troughs to overflow,” says Serviss.

“You don’t have to be located on a flood plain to experience flooding.”

Calgary is in a unique position when it comes to flooding. There are several factors that put Calgary at a higher risk of natural flooding.

“Our snow melt season comes at the same time as our rainy season,” explains Serviss. “With the steepness of the surrounding terrain, runoff can be quite quick. With two main rivers running directly through our city, Calgary has a higher flood risk.”

The City of Calgary prepares for flooding year-round. A city-wide plan includes monitoring runoff and river levels, snow pack levels, temperature and precipitation. It also includes educating citizens and City staff about the risks of flooding, how to prevent it, and how to recover from it.

“We provide information through The City’s website, public service announcements and community associations as well as field questions through 3-1-1,” says Serviss. “We raise public awareness where ever we can.”

The City encourages Calgarians to take steps to prevent flooding, including improving yard drainage, pointing downspouts away from the house and keeping eaves troughs and gutters clear of debris.

So remember, despite your best efforts, flooding can happen at any time. The City’s website has information about the steps to take before, during and after a flood to keep you, your family and your property safe. For more information including a flood preparedness handbook, visit calgary.ca/flooding.

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