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Provincial grant helps keep County flood ready

Rocky View County (RVC) is one of several Alberta municipalities benefiting from provincial grant funding to ensure flood readiness.
Flood Readiness
Rocky View County emergency crews inflate a tiger dam as part of a training exercise in Redwood Meadows. A recent provincial grant will allow the County to purchase a trailer to store tiger dams in a central location at Balzac and deploy them quickly in the event of a flood.

Rocky View County (RVC) is one of several Alberta municipalities benefiting from provincial grant funding to ensure flood readiness. RVC Fire Chief Randy Smith said the County became aware of the funding opportunity earlier this year, after the provincial government committed $10 million to help communities prepare for flood season – including $2 million dollars for short-term flood prevention. “This all happened very quickly,” he said. “Mid-May, we received notification regarding the whole grant process, and by the end of May, we had applied and were approved for the funding.” According to Smith, the provincial government identified communities around Alberta that have historically been susceptible to flooding, and put together the Flood Readiness Grant process to help those communities prepare for future flood events. Smith said the funding, which was doled out in two phases, allows the County to purchase equipment and be reimbursed by the province. “(In phase one) they gave us $10,000 to make sure our Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) was set up and ready to go,” Smith said. Those funds were used to put together rapid damage assessment kits, according to Smith, and to purchase two laptops for RVC’s two EOCs – a primary centre located in Balzac and a secondary one in Calgary. “(In) the second phase, we were able to identify projects or equipment that would enhance our ability to respond to a flood event,” Smith said. This year, RVC purchased tiger dams – water bladders used to protect critical infrastructure and homes. According to Smith, the second phase of funding – totaling $25,000 – allowed the County to purchase a trailer to store and transport the tiger dams from a central location in Balzac. The County also purchased an emergency radio repeater for first responders, which provides better coverage. Smith said the grant allows municipalities in flood-risk areas to have equipment on hand that can be deployed rapidly in the event of a flood. “As we saw in 2013, these things occur pretty quick,” Smith said. “It happens up in the mountains, and then it comes down.” Smith said response to floods is very personnel intensive, with a primary objective of ensuring the safety of responders and residents. Once that’s achieved, he said, the next priority is protecting property. According to Smith, proper flood-readiness helps co-ordinate resources in a timely manner, and ensures enough equipment is in place to properly respond. “Over the years, the equipment has been available, but it’s kind of like a one-car family,” Smith said. “If my wife takes my car and then I need it, it’s not available to me. It’s the same with the tiger dams or sandbagging or radios.” Smith said this grant is part of ongoing work to ensure the County and the province are ready to respond in an emergency. “I think every year, we’ll continue to build capacity, we’ll continue to bolster stockpiles and look at agreements so that we can help our neighbours,” Smith said. “You just keep building on the resources as you have the money.”

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