If a Hurricane Hit Alberta

If a Hurricane Hit Alberta

If a Hurricane Hit Alberta
By Daniel George


Hurricane Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida near Cayo Costa, just west of Ft. Myers, around 3:45 p.m. EDT on August 13, 2004. With maximum sustained surface winds near 150 mph, Charley was a category four storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The maximum storm surge associated with Charley was six to seven feet. Charley caused ten direct fatalities in the U.S. and an estimated $14 billion in economic losses. (NOAA, 2004) Hurricane Charley caused $16.3 billion (2004 USD) in damage throughout the Atlantic basin and was responsible for 15 deaths. Total damage from Hurricane Charley in the United States was estimated to be USD 15.4 billion, with damages of $25 million in North Carolina, $20 Million in South Carolina, and the rest occurring in Florida. At the time, this made Charley the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. History. (FEMA, 2005)

A lack of public preparedness campaigns created confusion, miscommunication, and an increase in property damages. About 80% of affected individuals had made some preparations before landfall. Preparations to homes tended to involve collecting supplies and securing loose objects outside. More than two-thirds had no window coverings, and only a handful had commercially installed shutters. Most of the preparations were frantic attempts during the last couple of hours before impact. About 60% said they would have done something different if more time or resources were available. (Florida, 2005) Living in Florida offers many benefits and advantages. However, during the past three years, four hurricanes have made landfall in Florida, including Hurricane Michael, the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. (FDEM, 2022b) To save Recovery costs, Florida continues to use a yearly Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax holiday on many items. (Florida Revenue, 2021) A Sales Tax that encourages emergency preparedness helps reduce costs for First Responders going to incidents such as Carbon Monoxide exposures during the initial Recovery effort. Suppose citizens have good generators, C.O. monitors, and proper windows. In that case, this helps reduce the burden of responsibility for emergency services. Present Resources The State Logistics Response Center is in Orlando. The warehouse holds generators, food, water, and other supplies, including cots that can be used during emergency shelter situations. (Ray, 2019) Resources would include water, meals, and generators. (FDEM, 2022a) Alberta's $10-million emergency preparedness investment added more equipment such as rapid deployment trailers, portable dams, sandbag fillers, and pumps to the provincial stockpile. (Westcott, 2018) The province of Alberta is unprepared for extensive overland flooding, sewer backup, or any combination of flooding. Despite several precedent-setting events, including the 2013 Calgary Floods, the 2020 Northern Alberta Floods, and the 2020 Calgary Hailstorm, we lack critical human and physical resources to respond and recover from floods. A $10-million emergency preparedness investment added more equipment such as rapid deployment trailers, portable dams, sandbag fillers and pumps to the provincial stockpile. (Westcott, 2018) Municipalities are encouraged to use their local resources before contacting the Provincial Operations Centre to request additional supplies from the stockpile. The province does not have enough supplies to equip multiple municipalities having similar events within the same operational period. With the 2020 Calgary Hailstorm, rain and wind damage from the severe storm resulted in extensive flooding of streets, underpasses and parking lots, with additional reports of a damaged gas line, downed trees, and sewer backups in basements and commercial buildings. (Contant, 2021) A significant factor in this storm was the unprecedented amount of hail that blocked storm drains, causing localized flooding across Northeast Calgary in areas that generally do not flood. There are not enough present resources. There remains a possibility that simultaneous flooding occurs in Calgary, sewer backup in Fort McMurray, and several hail storms hitting central Alberta, all at the same time. Alberta is similar to Florida in that we are quick to adapt complacency in the face of certain disasters, despite having both historical and modern examples to inspire practices. While Alberta may have more robust public preparedness campaigns than Florida for all-hazards, the information regarding floods is still lacking. Assuming an overland storm system similar in size and scale to Charley was to hit Alberta, assistance would likely be required from the Federal Government of Canada. Funding Needed Municipalities in Alberta may declare local states of emergencies due to flooding. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) may be activated to assist. The Provincial Operations Centre may increase its activation level to prepare for an event even before assistance is requested. In a large-scale natural disaster, the Government of Canada provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program (DFAA), administered by Public Safety Canada. Suppose disaster costs exceed what individual provinces could reasonably be expected to bear. In that case, the DFAA provides the Government of Canada with a fair and equitable means of assisting provincial and territorial governments. (PSC, 2021) DFAA funds are often used as a stop-gap for poor policy, planning, and mitigation efforts. Administration of DFAA funds pulls talented staff away from other ministries, often on temporary contracts or secondment. By investing more heavily in flood mitigation, flood response supplies, and public preparedness campaigns, the Government of Alberta would be providing stronger support to its dependent municipalities. In return, municipalities have already begun to shoulder some of the cost. Alberta has dropped its generous cost-sharing program for DFAA funding from 100% to 90%, with municipalities now paying for the remaining 10% of costs. This arrangement means assistance is provided for 90% of eligible disaster costs. The impacted community and private-sector applicants are responsible for the remaining 10% of their respective costs. There is also a new $500,000 funding cap per homeowner application and a one-time limit on disaster financial assistance per property. (GOA, 2022a) These changes were made to increase incentives for municipalities and homeowners to stop building in floodplains with little to no plans for basic flood mitigation or full-cost insurance coverage. While this might seem cruel and unjust, Alberta still has one of the most generous programs in the country. In BC, financial assistance is provided for each accepted claim at 80% of the total eligible damage less than $1,000, to $300,000. (BC, 2022) Potential Allies Before federal assistance would arrive, mutual aid agreements with other provinces, territories, and countries may be activated. The Government of Alberta uses various methods to collaborate with local municipalities before resources from out of province would arrive. Field Officers are assigned throughout the province to serve as a point-of-contact for Deputies of Emergency Management. Incident Management Teams (IMTs) are personnel drawn from multiple organizations / mutual aid partners, including municipalities and industries. IMTs are trained and exercised by all-hazard emergency management teams, designed to address response and recovery activities. IMTs and Field Officers are organized and operate within the ICS model. (GOA, n.d) Specialized support may come from agencies such as Team Rubicon or Canada Task Forces. Team Rubicon recruits, trains, equips, organizes, and deploys veterans worldwide to aid in disaster response operations. (Lee, 2021) Canada Task Force 2 (CAN-TF2), based in Alberta, is an 'all-hazards' Disaster Response Team with a diverse capacity to respond to various large-scale events. CAN-TF2 is a division of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency. (Canada Task Force, n.d.) Potential delays in activating these resources may be found at a municipal level, should the Deputies of Emergency Management ignore the oncoming threat or be caught off-guard. Certain municipalities may be more resilient. For example, Calgary did withstand the 2020 Calgary Hailstorm with no significant injuries and no activation of mutual aid agreements. (Smith, 2020) Presumably, a provincial state of emergency may have been declared if a similar storm hit a less resilient community. Small communities such as High River are in no position to respond to a disaster of this magnitude. Despite lessons learned from overland flooding events in 2020 and 2013, Alberta is still vulnerable to miscommunications and delays in emergency activations. Backup Plan The last resort in catastrophic situations is assistance from the Federal Government of Canada, perhaps in military support. After the 2013 Calgary Floods, the Federal Government responded to the Province of Alberta's request for assistance in addressing Canadian Armed Forces supporting flood operations with approximately 1,300 troops. RCMP officers from several detachments are also engaged in search and rescue activities, evacuation efforts, and logistical support. (Danesi, 2017) After Hurricane Harvey, the United States deployed 2,060 Coast Guard personnel, 50 aircraft, 75 boats and 29 cutters, rescuing 11,022 people and 1,384 pets. FEMA assigned 28 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from across the nation to deploy to Texas to assist state and local agencies. The teams used boats and high-water trucks to rescue 6,453 people and 237 animals. (FEMA, 2017) In Alberta and Texas, requesting federal aid may be perceived as a costly political admittance of defeat. Due to the delayed response to Hurricane Katrina, thousands were left without proper shelter, food, water, and medical supplies for days as they waited to be rescued. After televised images of frustrated American leaders and victims pleading for help, criticism of the government became widespread. (Chula et al., 2007) FEMA's disaster funding was cut before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, ostensibly to help pay for the Mexico border wall. (Benen, 2017) After Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, FEMA's lack of funding threatened to shut down the U.S. Government, requiring additional House approval for funds. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands faced particular vulnerabilities in the wake of Irma that could require significant outside support. (Khimm, 2017) The Government of Alberta would be prudent to learn the past mistakes in both Canada and the United States. Whether or not the upcoming budget will allow for such mitigation is entirely up to elected officials prioritizing a balanced budget over public safety.

References 

Benen, S. (2017, August 31). Why would Republicans try to cut FEMA's disaster relief fund? MSNBC.Com. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-would-republicans-try-cut-femas-disaster-relief-fund-msna1017276

Canada Task Force. (n.d.). CANADA TASK FORCE 2 - WHO WE ARE. Http://Www.Cantf2.Com/. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from http://www.cantf2.com/#about
Chula, A., Kaynak, S., & Foo, S. (2007). An analysis of the delayed response to Hurricane Katrina through the lens of Knowledge Management. Urban-Response.Org/. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.urban-response.org/system/files/content/resource/files/main/2007jasist-fmt.pdf

Contant, J. (2021, August 6). July hailstorm in Calgary caused $247 million in insured damage: CatIQ. Canadian Underwriter. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/july-hailstorm-in-calgary-caused-247-million-in-insured-damage-catiq-1004211083/

Danesi, P. B. N. (2017, March 3). Prime Minister of Canada responds to Alberta floods. CanadaHelps - Donate to Any Charity in Canada. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.canadahelps.org/en/crisis-relief-center/prime-minister-of-canada-responds-to-alberta-floods/

FDEM. (2022a). Logistics. Florida Disaster. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.floridadisaster.org/dem/response/logistics/

FDEM. (2022b). Preparing for the Hurricane Season. Florida Disaster Emergency Management. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.floridadisaster.org/planprepare/preparing-for-the-2019-hurricane-season/

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2017, September 22). Historic Disaster Response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas. FEMA.Gov. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20210318/historic-disaster-response-hurricane-harvey-texas#:%7E:text=Agencies%20respond%20to%20Hurricane%20Harvey,agencies%20with%20the%20lifesaving%20mission.

FEMA. (2005). Mitigation Assessment Team Report Hurricane Charley in Florida. Https://Www.Fema.Gov/. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-08/fema488_mat_report_hurricane_charley_fl.pdf

Florida Revenue Agency. (2021). DISASTER PREPAREDNESS 2021 SALES TAX HOLIDAY [Illustration]. Https://Floridarevenue.Com/. https://floridarevenue.com/DisasterPrep/Documents/2021DPposter.pdf

Government of Alberta. (n.d.). Incident Management Teams and Regional Partnerships. Page 13. Page 16. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/ma-incident-management-teams-and-regional-partnerships.pdf

Government of Alberta. (2022a). Disaster financial assistance and recovery support. Alberta.Ca. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.alberta.ca/disaster-assistance-and-recovery-support.aspx

Government of Alberta. (2022b). Floods. Alberta.Ca. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.alberta.ca/floods.aspx

Government of British Columbia Emergency Management BC. (2022, February 9). Financial assistance in a disaster - Province of British Columbia. Emergency Management BC. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/preparedbc/evacuee-guidance/disaster-financial-assistance

Khimm, S. (2017, September 7). FEMA Is Nearly Out of Cash, Just as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Strike. NBC News. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-irma/between-hurricanes-harvey-irma-fema-nearly-out-cash-n799386

Lee, M. (2021). Story of. Team Rubicon. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://team-rubicon.ca/story/

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2004). Service Assessment Hurricane Charley, August 9–15, 2004. Https://Www.Weather.Gov/. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.weather.gov/media/publications/assessments/Charley06.pdf

Public Safety Canada. (2021). Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA). Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/rcvr-dsstrs/dsstr-fnncl-ssstnc-rrngmnts/index-en.aspx

Ray, K. (2019, November 30). 9 Investigates: Audit shows major problems with state-owned warehouse for hurricane supplies. WFTV. https://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/9-investigates-audit-shows-major-problems-with-state-owned-warehouse-for-hurricane-supplies/630599569/

Smith, A. (2020, June 15). Cleanup continues after northeast homes, vehicles pounded by "apocalyptic" storm. Calgaryherald. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://calgaryherald.com/news/0615-storm-folo
Town of High River. (2014). Town of High River After Action Report. Https://Swana.Org/. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://swana.org/docs/default-source/resources-documents/disaster-resource-documents/hrf_afteractionreport.pdf?sfvrsn=33d35da4_2

Westcott, T. (2018, June 12). Alberta Alloates Funding for Flood-Prevention Measures. Water Canada. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.watercanada.net/alberta-allocates-funding-for-flood-prevention-measures/
 

Comment Area

Comments
Epigenetics and Human Health
Epigenetics and Human Health
Impact of climate change on agricultural activities across the globe
Impact of climate change on agricultural activities across the globe
Resilience and Grit Importance for Success 
Resilience and Grit Importance for Success 
Barriers to Communication within Emergency Services
Barriers to Communication within Emergency Services
The Epidemiological Transition: A shift from Communicable to Non-communicable Disease
The Epidemiological Transition: A shift from Communicable to Non-communicable Disease
Christian Stewardship
Christian Stewardship
Late Life Depression in Older Adults
Late Life Depression in Older Adults
PPE Waste: Another Ramification of the COVID-19 Pandemic
PPE Waste: Another Ramification of the COVID-19 Pandemic