Now that it appears Mother Nature has stopped her prolonged Winter temper tantrum, our thoughts can (cautiously) turn to Spring.
What does that mean? Well, a ramp up in activity in the Spring market for one. But also a topic that fills many Calgarians with dread: Spring runoff. Many of us experienced and witnessed the Great Flood of 2013 and were awestruck by the power and widespread destruction our rivers left behind. Can it happen again? Want to take the risk that it doesn’t?
We all know we had higher than average snowfall this year, so a quick melt coupled with heavy rains could put everybody on edge again. City of Calgary water expert Frank Frigo recently told CBC News that we’ve had just over 160 centimetres of snow this year. That’s about 170% of normal in most of the Calgary area. Further up in the mountains — the area that feeds our rivers — we’ve got 130% of our normal snowpack. Long range forecasts aren’t always accurate, but it appears May is not bringing a ton of rain. June? Who knows?
We learned some valuable lessons from 2013. We’ve improved our dam and reservoir management practices so our rivers don’t fill as quickly and the banks of the Bow have been refortified to withstand high water volumes. Still, water has a way of going where it shouldn’t, so a little awareness goes a long way.
For folks who live in designated flood zones, some preparation is crucial. If you don’t know if you are in the flood zone, or want to know if a potential property you’re looking at is, simply ask your Realtor to find out. Both Amie and I always check for flood zones if we see properties within several blocks of the river or some type of waterway.
The City of Calgary has created a fantastic flood preparedness website,which has tons of great advice, tips and plans you can access. I’d encourage you to check it out but some of the highlights include:
- Create a 72-hour kit– thatholds supplies to support you and your family for three days.
- Create flood and evacuation plans – Make sure your family is prepared for up to 3 days and knows how and when to get out of your home safely.
- Get the latest alerts and notices – Stay informed and know what the danger level is and when it’s time to hightail it out of there.
- Designate an out of town contact that each family member knows to contact in case you’re separated. Make sure everyone knows their number.
- Set a safe meeting spot outside of your neighborhood that every family member knows to go to or contact if it’s not safe to return home.
- Create some temporary barriers for flooding – If you have time, add earthen berms, flood tubes or sandbags to critical locations that are vulnerable during flooding.
Any way you look at it, flooding is scary, costly and comes on very suddenly. By being aware of where you live and what to do in case of a flood, we can all learn to embrace, rather than dread, those Spring showers!