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Calgary State of Local Emergency ends as weather, flood risk subsides

The City of Calgary has rescinded the State of Local Emergency as a worrisome weather system is expected to be well south of the city.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek made the announcement Friday afternoon as the city had kept a close eye on a second system developing west of Calgary.

“I’m happy to be sharing some very good news with you today,” the mayor said.

“Two days ahead of our scheduled update, I can tell you that we have rescinded, just now, the local state of emergency.”

There was fear a developing storm would strengthen and then wrap around and slide along the Eastern Slopes, drenching an already saturated Bow River basin.  According to Water Resources Director Francois Bouchart, that didn’t materialize.

“I’m glad to be able to tell you today that the risk has dissipated because partly, we’re seeing the jetstream tracking south of us, taking that system actually further south,” Bouchart said.

“Therefore, models are no longer showing any potential of that system wrapping around.”

City officials still cautioned that rain would continue, though not in the same volumes. Bow River and Elbow River levels will still be high. Boating advisories are still in place in those areas.

The changing forecast was a challenge to ensure a measured response, said Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry.

“It always amazes me to see the amount of precision and incredible detail that goes into predicting weather systems and predicting the river flows,” Chief Henry said.

“We are confident in our monitoring systems and we are confident in our warning systems. Nature is far less easy to rationalize. And as you can see today, the forecasts do change.”

Berm will be removed

As a result of the ending of the State of Local Emergency, the Memorial Drive berm will be taken down.

City officials said that they expect the berm deconstruction to take a couple of days. Traffic is expected to be at normal Monday morning. The berm construction cost $115,000 and opening the two lanes of traffic cost $17,000. There are no estimates on the takedown, nor the total cost of the city’s flood response.

Chief Henry asked that Calgarians don’t come down to watch the decommissioning as it will be an active construction site.

When asked if Calgary overreacted with their flood response, Chief Henry was clear: They did not overreact.

“I would say that this is preparedness in action,” Chief Henry said.

“There’s there comes a point in response where you have to make a decision because things take time to put into place. And the reality is, as a city we would rather be more prepared, take the chance that something doesn’t occur based on very, very sound predictive information, then be in a position where we didn’t act fast enough, and something did occur.”

The mayor agreed.

“These were people’s homes, people’s lives and so to invest money in protection was absolutely something we needed to do,” she said.