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Calgary's Manhattan Moment

Calgary's Manhattan Moment

Several days of heavy rainfall have swelled the Bow and Elbow rivers, carrying fast-moving water through Calgary and towns such as Canmore, High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. The speed and extent of the flooding in southern Alberta has taken people in the province by surprise and a number of Calgary neighbourhoods have been evacuated, affecting an estimated 75,000 people.

As Calgary and other devastated communities start the painstaking recovery after the worst flood in Alberta's history, other communities such as Drumheller and Medicine Hat are bracing for their own ordeal.

On Monday, city officials announced that all evacuation orders outside of the city core have been lifted but the evacuation orders remain in effect for the residents of the city core. Thousands of people affected by the flooding returned to their properties to do self-assessments of their homes. Those who are heading home are being urged to follow safety guidelines when the re-enter.


Calgary Flooding
Disaster Recovery: How it Works in Alberta

Disaster recovery programs are a safety net for citizens who incurred uninsurable loss and damage during a disaster -- key for southern Albertans, since overland flood insurance is not provided in Canada.

The programs are a way of ensuring the costs of associated with disasters are shared by provinces and, in some cases, the entire country.

Here’s how they work:

Alberta’s Disaster Recovery Programs

Municipalities apply for disaster recovery on behalf of their residents. If the province approves the request, 
a program is set up.

In order to receive assistance, a person must take photos of the condition of their space, start to clean it up, submit an application for assistance, undergo an evaluation, finish repairing damage and receive a decision on assistance.

Types of property that can be covered include:

  • Televisions: If you have three, only one may be considered essential

  • Furniture: If you have an antique dining room table, you may receive funds for a basic dining room table

  • Clothing

  • Appliances

  • Clean-up tools: Shop vacs, mops, etc.

Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements

When disaster response and recovery costs exceed what individual provinces or territories could reasonably be expected to bear on their own, Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangementsallows the federal government to step in with assistance.
A province or territory may request disaster financial assistance when eligible expenditures exceed $1 per capita.

The money helps cover everything from public infrastructure to people’s private property. Some of the costs covered include:

  • Evacuation

  • Emergency food, shelter and clothing

  • Restoration, replacement or repairs to an individual’s dwelling (personal residence only)

  • Repairs to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges

  • Costs of damage inspection, appraisal and clean up

Since the inception of the program in 1970, the federal government has paid out more than $2 billion in assistance.


Assistance and Recovery Support: Disaster Recovery Programs (DRPs)

Recovering from a disaster is difficult. The Government of Alberta makes it easier by providing disaster recovery funding for eligible residents, small businesses, agricultural producers and municipalities after events like overland flooding that cause uninsurable damage and loss. Municipalities apply for disaster recovery programs (DRPs) on behalf of their residents.

Disaster recovery programs provide financial assistance for municipalities and their citizens who incur uninsurable loss and damage as a result of a disastrous event. These programs are an effective way of assisting municipalities by ensuring that the costs of disasters are shared by all Albertans, and whenever possible, by all Canadians through cost sharing arrangements with the federal government.

A state of local emergency does not have to be declared in order to receive financial assistance under a disaster recovery program.

The Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) is administered by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA). AEMA is part of Alberta Municipal Affairs. Alberta Regulation 51/94 of the Alberta Emergency Management Act allows the province to provide disaster recovery assistance to residents, small business, agriculture operations, and provincial and municipal governments if the event meets the criteria as outlined in the regulation.

  • The event is considered extraordinary.

  • Insurance is not reasonably or readily available.

  • There is evidence that the event is wide spread.


If the rainfall has been at least at a one in 25 year level in urban areas or a one in 50 year level in rural areas, it is considered extraordinary.


If the flooding is caused by a waterway, and the stream flow exceeds a one in 100 year level, it is considered extraordinary.

Ice Jams

Each ice jam is reviewed on an individual basis. Data, collected by Alberta Environment on general winter and ice conditions and extraordinary conditions (colder winter, rapid melt, thick and strong ice) that prevailed at the breakup in the vicinity of the site will be reviewed.

For More Information

Disaster Recovery Programs, please call toll free 1-888-671-1111.