As many as 10,000 Calgarians will be out of their homes for “a significant period of time,” the head of Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency says.
Bruce Burrell, who is leading the city’s response to last week’s disastrous flooding, said Friday morning a picture is beginning to emerge of the impact of the flood. He said the vast majority of Calgarians will be able to return home, but many won't. “Probably for 1.18-million Calgarians, nothing’s changed. It’s life as normal. But there’s probably 8,000 to 10,000 out there that are dealing with incredible crisis. So we have to remember that it’s a small portion of our population, but it’s actually a very significant number of people,” Mr. Burrell said Friday morning.
The city has begun posting video interviews with volunteers and people who saw their homes flooded. The city has rallied around the flood-affected neighbourhoods, but Mr. Burrell warned against losing sight of the long-term impact of flooding.
“It’s great to see everyone chipping in and helping out. But we do have a lot of people that this is going to take a very traumatic toll on, because they’re going to be dealing with being out of their homes for a significant period of time. So, just to put it in focus ... we’re trying to keep the spirit of the city alive,” he said.
The city is pressing ahead with as many events as it can. That includes Canada Day, which Mayor Naheed Nenshi has held up as a quasi-reopening of the downtown core, and the Calgary Stampede, set to begin July 5.
On Friday, Mr. Burrell said the Stampede has been asked to consider revising its long-established parade route, saying areas where the parade participants – including horses – gather may to be too muddy. In particular, the city asked the Stampede to simply reverse the route, so that it takes the same path but that everyone can gather on dry ground.
Meanwhile, the city has shifted its attention to beginning to tabulate the homes washed out by the flood – in particular, which will have to be torn down. Once that assessment work is underway, the city will begin to have a guess at how many houses were hit by the flood, and how many were ruined. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said it’s too early to tell, other than that “thousands” of homes were damaged.