Saturday, July 5, 2014

Was Saskatchewan prepared enough for the flood of 2014?

Bruce Johnstone in the Star-Phoenix (Saskatchewan): With the Flood of 2014 barely over and the clean up just begun, it's far too early to be pointing fingers of blame at government or anyone else for failing to predict the magnitude of the flooding or prevent it from happening.

However, it's not too early to ask some pointed questions about the extent of our preparedness for these types of disasters, whether our response was adequate and, more importantly, whether we can expect these events to occur more frequently in the future.

...But Wall added we've learned a lot from the 2011 experience. "We've just purchased more equipment. We have better knowledge, better expertise by our response team.' More pumps and temporary barriers were acquired, while forest firefighting crews and resources were repurposed to help mitigate the flood damage in the soggy southeast and east-central portions of the province. The Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP), which provides coverage against flood damage not covered by insurance, has been approved for 37 municipalities, including Regina and Melville.

And the province has set aside $500 million in its (aptly named) "rainy day' fund that will be used to cover its share of its PDAP costs, which amounted to $163 million in 2011. (Ottawa picked up the other $200 million.)

...So what more could have been done to prevent this flood or better prepare for it? Manitobans have complained for years that unauthorized drainage projects in Saskatchewan have contributed to flooding on the Manitoba side of the border. Wall himself has suggested that agricultural drainage may be partly to blame for exacerbating, if not causing, the widespread flooding that seems to be occurring more frequently in recent years....

2009 flooding in Manitoba, shot by Shawn, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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