Calgary, AB,

Flood Recovery Operations a Success


CALGARY - The Recovery Operations Centre set up to help Calgarians and The City recover from the 2013 flood has been a hugely successful venture and serves as a model for future disaster recovery activities, say two reports released today.


The City’s...

CALGARY - The Recovery Operations Centre set up to help Calgarians and The City recover from the 2013 flood has been a hugely successful venture and serves as a model for future disaster recovery activities, say two reports released today.

The City’s comprehensive emergency management model and Municipal Emergency Plan, established by the Calgary Emergency Management Agency,  call for a Recovery Operations Centre (ROC) to support municipal recovery following significant events. It was implemented for the first time following the 2013 flood.

Over the past two years, the Flood Recovery Operations Centre and a dedicated Task Force of staff from across The City have been overseeing recovery efforts and working with partners such as the Government of Alberta and community organizations. The 2013  Flood Recovery Framework approved by City Council helped guide recovery efforts in five key areas – people, services, housing and property, infrastructure and funding,

To ensure continuous improvement, an independent third party assessed the centre operations and an internal debrief was undertaken. Based on the reviews and lessons learned, recommendations have been made to improve future ROC activities regardless of the nature of the event. The reports and recommendations were presented to The City’s Emergency Management Committee today.

“The 2013 flood was one of the largest natural disasters in Canadian history and thanks to structured and coordinated efforts of City staff, recovery is well underway,” said Deputy City Manager Brad Stevens. “The centralized recovery operations team was key to having a coordinated, collaborative approach with the Government of Alberta, our partners in the community and citizens. We have been able to track and measure success, identify gaps early and make adjustments to programs and services to help citizens. We know there is still work to do on flood recovery and we now have better processes and programs in place to help facilitate this and future recovery efforts regardless of what type of disaster we may face.”

The 2013 Flood Recovery Internal Lessons Learned Highlights outlines recovery strengths, actions taken to date and recommendations to improve future recovery initiatives. It was developed following interviews with City staff, the Government of Alberta, and staff working on the Municipal Infrastructure Recovery Program (MIRP).

The independent assessment by The Conference Board of Canada credits “exceptional performance by City officials” in responding to and recovering from the flood. In its report The Road to Recovery; The City of Calgary and the 2013 Flood, The Conference Board identifies Calgary's timely, structured, and outcome-focused approach to recovery was critical in restoring services, repairing infrastructure and helping Calgarians through recovery efforts.

Dr. Satyamoorthy Kabilan, Director of National Security and Strategic Foresight with The Conference Board, outlined three key findings in his report:

  • The City’s timely, structured, and outcome-focused approach to flood recovery was crucial in getting Calgary back on its feet.
  • Lessons learned include the value of the Recovery Operations Centre and the 2013 Flood Recovery Framework, the importance of key recovery metrics and performance indicators and the need to include community actors and external stakeholders. The lessons learned also refer to the immediacy and intensity of recovery operations, the importance of centralized communication, and the need to adjust policies and programs to support recovery.
  • Recommendations include building a skills inventory and staff training for recovery purposes, ensuring proper knowledge management practices are in place, and enhancing situational awareness of vulnerable populations.

Both the third party review and internally conducted reviews identified similar lessons learned and offered recommendations to improve future recovery efforts, such as:

  • Co-location of response and recovery staff in one location in the early days of recovery to facilitate decision-making and communications;
  • Building relationships between The City and organizations in the community that support vulnerable populations;
  • Developing a skills inventory among City staff for use in response and recovery;
  • Centralized recovery operations to oversee reporting, tracking and coordinated communications; and
  • Capitalizing on insurance and financial tracking tools to improve reporting.

Some recommendations are already being implemented, such as creation of a claims management database to track and manage insurance claims and creating a corporate skills database to assess and manage staff competencies to respond to and recover from disasters.

See interviews with Dr. Kabilan, ROC Director Chris Arthurs and Chief Sampson here.