Stay vigilant, city says, as second Calgary-area weather system lurks

·2 min read
Calgary built this flood-mitigating berm along the Bow River in just 18 hours at a cost of about $115,000, city officials said Thursday. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Calgary built this flood-mitigating berm along the Bow River in just 18 hours at a cost of about $115,000, city officials said Thursday. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but Calgary isn't out of the woods just yet.

That's the message from city officials, in the wake of a massive rainstorm earlier this week that spared the city of much potential damage.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says a berm quickly built along a section of Memorial Drive north of the core, while possibly inconvenient, shows the city's commitment.

It went up in 18 hours, cost about $115,000, but has some flexibility built in.

"We understand the berm is creating some traffic-flow issues, so the good news is, we will be creating a couple of lanes of traffic, a temporary division in the berm," Gondek told reporters early Thursday.

It can be restored if needed for a future weather system, she said, adding the state of emergency Calgary declared Monday stays put for now.

The berm is protecting more than $50 million in property, Gondek said.

Parks affected by the weather system have reopened, except for Rideau Park in the city's southwest along Elbow Drive.

'Risk is there'

The city's water resources director says now is not the time for complacency.

"I do want to stress that the risk is there, and therefore we are taking every precaution possible," Francois Bouchart said.

He said weather modelling includes one option that could be a problem.

"Some of our models are showing that system wrapping around into the eastern slopes, just like the system we observed this past week," he explained.

"The forecast is between 50 and 100 mm of rain. If we look at the midpoint, 70 mm of rain, that would see flows within the Bow River peaking at around 1,200 cubic metres per second."

During the 2013 flood, the river peaked at 1,750 cubic metres per second.

Parts of Bowness and Sunnyside are among areas at risk in worst-case scenarios, Bouchart said.

Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), said residents can report non-emergency, weather-related incidents, like downed trees on city property or blocking traffic, through the 311 app.

Since Monday, the city has received more than 1,000 tree-related reports.

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