Livingstone-Macleod MLA reviews flood notification

FRANK MCTIGHE

MACLEOD GAZETTE EDITOR

Communication has to improve before there is another flood in southern Alberta. Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier has been flooded with calls from people concerned about the lack of advance warning of the June flood.

“I’ve had quite a few people calling me of late — both rural and urban —with respect to a lack of warning in the Oldman Dam releasing water,” Stier said.

Those callers have expressed concern they were not told the flooding along the Oldman River would be as great as it was. 

“The event seems to have come on without anyone’s ability to pre-predict the thing with any kind of advance notice,” Stier said.

Stier said as the province deals with rebuilding and looks into the issue of flooding questions are being raised.

“I think it’s going to hit the fan on this stuff,” Stier said, who suspects there could be a public inquiry. 

Stier has set about researching the issue, and last week visited the Oldman Dam to learn the protocols for releasing water.

Stier also spoke with the MD of Willow Creek and Town of Fort Macleod about the notice provided.

“I’m trying to get myself aware of all the procedures and protocols,” Stier said. “I’m just trying to find out

what the procedures are, and whether they are followed.”

Stier has lived on the Bow River his entire life and has seen rivers and creeks flood in the past. His family moved to higher ground after getting flooded out in the 1960s.

The June flooding in Alberta surpassed anything Stier has witnessed in the province.

“This one has been absolutely unbelievable,” Stier said.

Stier said there could be the need for more information for residents living along the river about the

procedures to be followed when the Oldman rises.

“They may have made assumptions that someone would come along and tell them if it got really bad,” Stier said. “But by then more often

than not it’s too late to get all their stuff out.”

Stier said it is important for the operators of emergency centres to ensure that people are aware in advance of how they will be notified.

Stier said it is important to look at the way people are notified of impending flooding, and to make whatever adjustments are needed.

The MLA said it would be worthwhile for the MD of Willow Creek and Town of Fort Macleod to convene a meeting with property owners to

discuss the flood response.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Stier said.

Anyone who has concerns about the lack of flood notice is invited to call Stier to share their personal

experience.

“The more information I get the more we can help people,” Stier said.

Stier is also looking into floodproofing practices for people who have homes or are planning to build in low-lying areas. “There are some things you can do to make your home more resistant,” Stier said.

Stier twice visited Fort Macleod during the flood as he made his way around the riding. “I can’t say enough about the emergency people who have taken so much of their personal time to volunteer and help these poor people who have fallen victim to this incredible disaster,” Stier said.

“It is a terrible thing that happened and we are all demonstrating how we can pitch in and help.”

Stier was to attend a meeting of the Oldman Watershed Council when news of the magnitude of the flood arrived.

Stier rushed to the Turner Valley- Black Diamond area, and that night worked six hours as the emergency operations centre for the MD of Foothills.

The emergency operations centre had to be moved to the De Winton Fire Hall, and Stier worked to 1 a.m. answering phones.

“It’s wonderful to see people like that in emergency situations who despite the fact their own homes were wrecked could sit there and carry on and help others.”

Stier later spent time helping people in High River clean up their homes after the flood.

The MLA witnessed first-hand the support volunteers provided to the flood victims.

“It’s great to see everyone pull together,” Stier said.