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Aerial view looking out from Northridge Drive June 2013


The Town of Okotoks Flood Action Plan has been developed and updated yearly to provide an effective response to a flood incident. This handbook will provide information to residents on what the Town is responsible for as well as what residents need to know about preparing for an emergency.

Flood Planning and Preparation The Town has developed a sandbag pre-deployment strategy for flood prone areas which details flood mitigation activities and procedures, including the delivery of sandbags in/ to the flood plain during a flood event. The sandbag pre-deployment strategy is based on weather predictions and the levels of warning issued by Alberta Environment and is coordinated by Public Works (Operations).

Flood Emergency Levels as Identified by Alberta Environment Level 1: High Stream Flow Advisory (affected residents would see a hand-delivered green advisory notice and be notified by the mass notification tool [new in 2014]) • This level is an alert stage only. All areas need to focus on ensuring they are prepared for a potential flood event. What the Town is doing at this time: • Town staff, Council and the public have been notified. • The Town is getting prepared by ensuring materials, supplies and resources are available should the situation escalate. • Monitoring of the Sheep River flows and weather projections begins. • The Town may pre-deploy sandbags prior to a Flood Watch if deemed necessary. • Backflow gates are closed in storm sewers and Open Spaces monitors low-lying areas. • Access will be shut down to the Sheep River parks and pathways as necessary.

Level 2: Flood Watch

(affected residents would see a hand-delivered yellow advisory notice and be notified by the mass notification tool [new for 2014]) At this level, flooding of low-lying areas in the flood plain and flood fringe are likely. What the Town is doing at this time: • Town staff, Council and residents have been notified. • Resources (manpower, equipment such as pumps and materials) are assembled (sandbags are made and stacked on pallets) then deployed to critical areas as deemed necessary. • Preparations are made to line up resources by split-shifting staff and securing contractors and volunteers. • The Town activates the sandbag pre-deployment strategy in preparation for Flood Warning (Level 3) and pumping operations begin. • Monitoring increases, the Sheep River Park is put on alert and pathways prone to flooding are closed to the public.

Level 3: Flood Warning

(affected residents would see a hand-delivered red advisory notice and be notified by the mass notification tool [new for 2014]) • A flood warning means that rising river levels will result in flooding of areas adjacent to the streams affected. Anyone situated close to the river should take appropriate measures to avoid flood damage. What the Town is doing at this time: • Town staff, Council and residents have been notified. • All resources are deployed to their locations to man and monitor pumping. • All aspects of the plan are activated. • Typically, a “local state of emergency” may be declared publicly (depending on the situation at the time). • Evacuations, road closures, traffic control. • Ensure public is kept away from closed areas In the event that a Flood Watch is issued by Alberta Environment, the Town of Okotoks activates its Sandbag Pre-Deployment Strategy to all areas affected in the flood plain as identified on the pre-deployment maps (see next page). There may be circumstances when the sandbags are pre-deployed prior to the Flood Watch at the High Stream Flow Advisory (Level 1) and will be based on weather predications and water levels.

Strategy for South Railway Residents & Businesses (Lineham area) Once a Flood Watch (Level 2) has been declared, South Railway (Lineham & Riverside area) residents will have four defined sandbag drop-off/pick-up stations. Also at this level, arrangements will be made for a temporary potable water supply for residents who may not want to or are unable to rely on their well supply. Strategy for Riverside Residents & Businesses (Riverside area) Once a Flood Watch (Level 2) has been declared, Riverside residents will have three defined sandbag drop-off/pick-up stations. For specific needs over and above the sandbag pre-deployment strategies residents/businesses are asked to contact the Operations Centre at 403-938-4372.

River Monitoring Five stations along the Sheep River within Town boundaries are set up and checked on a regular basis. The frequency is dependent on the severity of the flood event at the time.

Storm Sewer Outfalls The outfalls with backflow protection are checked and the backflow devices are cleaned to ensure they will function properly. This occurs until the river rises to the point where the devices are submerged and not accessible for maintenance. Sandbagging of catch basins and manholes in low-lying areas are done when river levels are such that river water is on the surface. This is designed to minimize water backing up the storm sewer system into these areas. Pumping will then be required to deal with surface storm water from rainfall that collects in the low-lying areas.

Water Supply When flooding into the Sheep River Park is imminent, the water supply wells and treatment plant are monitored on a 24-hour schedule. An EPCOR operator will be on site 24 hours per day at the plant monitoring treatment quality and adjusting plant processes depending on the turbidity level changes.

Sheep River Valley Securing the Sheep River Valley parks and pathways from public access is critical to ensuring the public’s safety. Open Spaces will close parks and pathways as the severity of the flood event dictates.

Public Information The Emergency Public Information Officer (EPIO) coordinates the provision of information to the public, media, Town staff and other groups prior to, during, and after an emergency or disaster. The EPIO will release information as quickly and as fully as possible, keeping in mind the public’s right to know events which may affect lives, well-being and property. Information updates will occur as frequently as possible. The information will focus on the following: •

Advise the public what to do to protect health and property.

To provide the best available information about what has happened – type, cause, scope and effects of the emergency.

To inform the public how the Town is dealing with the situation and to provide information on how to obtain further information and assistance.

Priority for Communication: •

People directly affected by the emergency – residents and businesses that are in the flood plain and flood fringe.

Staff, local media, other residents, businesses and visitors

Evacuees and people inquiring about them

General public

Where Information Can Be Found:

Town website:

Various phone numbers will be provided where possible/appropriate

Town Facebook Page: Town of Okotoks

Town Twitter Account: @townofokotoks

Alberta Emergency Alert:

Local radio: Eagle 100.9 FM/

Outdoor signage at Southridge Emergency Services Building (98 Woodhaven Dr)

Digital signage may be placed where necessary

Flood Preparedness In our area, being prepared for flooding is an unfortunate reality. Seasonal flooding from snow melt or heavy rains is not uncommon, and may pose a flooding risk to those in close proximity to rivers and streams. Water may overflow onto properties and into basements, even in neighbourhoods that have not experienced flooding before. Being prepared for seasonal flooding can significantly reduce the potential for property damage or loss, and can increase residents’ personal safety. Be prepared to take care of you and your family for at least 72 hours: • Know the risks in your community and the most appropriate way to respond to them. Call Emergency Services at 403-938-4066 to find out more about Okotoks’ emergency plans and for advice on identifying the risks in this area. • Make a plan for what your family will do, who they will contact and where they will go in the event of an emergency. Practice your emergency plan regularly. • Prepare a kit - put together a 72-hour kit with enough non-perishable food, water, medication, warm clothing and comfort items for all family members. You should make a ready-to-go kit in case you need to evacuate your home quickly and always have an emergency kit in every vehicle used by your family members. • Be informed before and during any emergency by learning where to access local information and emergency officials, tuning in to media and staying connected with your family, friends and neighbours.

Create a Family Emergency Plan

72 hr Kit

Include your entire family when considering how personal safety and the safety of the property, house and animals should be secured in the event of an emergency. • Include arrangements for family members with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly who use special medical equipment, in your plan. • Make arrangements for your family pet(s) in your planning. • Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by a disaster or emergency. • Plan and practice a flood-evacuation route with your family. • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone in your home. • Teach children how and when to call fire, police, and emergency medical services, and which local radio station (Eagle 100.9 FM) to tune into for emergency information. • Prepare an emergency kit for the home and for each vehicle. Maintain and replenish the kits regularly and make sure everyone knows where they are stored. • Learn your neighbourhood and community’s evacuation routes, as some hazards may force you to leave your home. • Visit to learn more about how you can prepare your family.

Flood Proofing Your Property - Outside When protecting a home or basement from flooding, start with the outside of the home. • A typical lot should be graded to allow water to naturally drain away from the foundation and basement walls and into a landscape feature such as a rain garden, porous rock, or a native plant garden. Water should not be directed onto neighbouring properties. • If the lot is not properly graded or the soil has settled, build up the ground around the house, and do not plant within 1.8 metres, or six feet of the backfilled area. • Examine outside sidewalks, patios, decks, window wells and driveways. They can settle over time and cause water to drain towards the home. • Ensure downspouts are directed away from the house, and water is not pooling beside the foundation or windows. Downspouts should not be connected to the home’s weeping tile or sanitary sewer system. • Eavestroughs should be checked for debris regularly, particularly if a nearby tree is dropping leaves. • If weeping tiles or a drainage area is inadequate, consider building a rain capture tank. This will reduce the amount of water flowing onto the property and the water can be used for irrigation. • Consider flood proofing beyond the house. Check the garage and storage sheds and be sure any potential contaminants such as pesticides or fertilizers are on a shelf or in a water proof container so they cannot dissolve in floodwaters. • Consider what precautions to take to safeguard pets in the event of a flood.

Flood Proofing Your Home - Inside Inside the home, there are a number of measures for reducing the risk and effects of flooding: • Cut back on high water usage during wet weather conditions. The less water added to the drainage system, the better. • Have a plumber install a backflow prevention device in the sewer service connection (contact a building inspector at 403-938-8914 for more information). This device will prevent sewage that has backed up in the sewer mains from flowing into the home via the service connection. • Install a sump pit drainage system which includes a pit, a sump pump and a pump discharge pipe. The sump pump discharge pipe should drain into an area of the yard where the water can be absorbed, or to a designated drainage area. • Ensure sump pumps are cleaned and tested each spring. • Store important documents and irreplaceable personal belongings in a portable, fire proof and waterproof container. • Prepare a bag to grab and go, including medications, food, water and a first aid kit. • Keep a portable radio with spare batteries on hand to listen to emergency information if the power is out. • Make sure the correct insurance coverage is in place.

During a Flood

It’s important to learn what steps to take during a flood to ensure safety and mitigate damage to your property. This includes understanding the flood advisories and knowing how to respond if emergency personnel are unable to reach the area immediately. The following procedures are meant to minimize damage and hardship during a flooding emergency:

• During rainy conditions, monitor the Town website, social media channels and local media sources such as the radio (Eagle 100.9 FM broadcasts locally) for important weather information and safety instructions. • If requested to leave the area, do so immediately and follow instructions issued by emergency personnel. • Inform personnel if there is a neighbour who may need additional help—particularly the elderly. In the event of an evacuation, do the following if time and safety permits: • Secure your home. Move essential items to an upper floor and bring in outdoor furniture. • Disconnect all electrical appliances and elevate any which are at ground level. If instructed by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve. • Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated. • If you have a well pump system or sewage lift pump, turn the power off. • Avoid running taps, using toilets, or anything which results in additional wastewater entering the system, as it can easily cause an overload. • Don’t forget your pets; provide your pet with access to elevated spaces or counters. • Ensure any chemicals which could contaminate the water are elevated. • Prepare a bag with essential items including medications and a first aid kit. • Move to the second floor if caught by suddenly rising water. • Do not walk through moving water. It takes only as little as six inches of moving water to knock you off your feet, and it is difficult to see what is below. • If a road is barricaded, it is for safety purposes. Choose another direction or roadway. • Do not drive in flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground if it is safe. One foot of water will float many types of vehicles. • Watch for downed power lines, damaged roads, or fallen objects on the road. • Stay out of flood areas until the emergency personnel give permission to return. • Reduce potable water use wherever possible. For example, don’t run dishwashers or washing machines. This will help reduce the strain on the water treatment system. Floods cause additional silt to build up in the system resulting in it having to work harder to produce water.

Alberta Environment Flood Advisories High Streamflow Advisory: This advisory alerts the public of rising stream levels or the expectation for stream levels to rise rapidly. No major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Anyone situated close to streams affected (camping, fishing, boating, the public) is advised to be cautious of the rising levels. A Flood Watch: Alerts public that stream levels are rising and will approach or may

exceed bank. Flooding of areas adjacent to these streams may occur. Anyone situated close to the streams is advised to take appropriate precautionary measures.

A Flood Warning: Alerts the public of rising river levels that will result in flooding of areas adjacent to the streams affected. Anyone situated close to the river should take appropriate measure to avoid flood damage.

After a Flood After a flood, it’s important to restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to your house and belongings. Once flood waters have receded, and permission has been granted to return home, consider the following safety measures: • Ensure the house is safe before entering. Check the foundation, the roof, nearby trees or other overhangs to be sure they are intact. Contact a building inspector if there is damage (403-938-8914). • Inform the insurance company of any damage as soon as possible and keep the receipts for any emergency repairs or clean up needed. • Photograph or video tape the damage to support insurance claims. • Have the power and gas supplies checked by a professional electrician or gas plumber before turning them back on. • Check for sewage and water line damage prior to using toilets and taps. Call a plumber if damage is suspected. • Ensure water sources such as wells, cisterns, dugouts and livestock water is checked by the health authority for contaminants and clean or treat as needed. • Clean, disinfect and dry all wet surfaces as soon as possible to prevent mold. • Throw away any food, including canned goods, that has come in contact with flood water. • Check the references and qualifications for any clean-up or repair contractors before hiring.

Town of Okotoks Flood Response The Town of Okotoks responds to drainage concerns on a prioritized basis using the following response criteria:

1. Public Health and Safety • Significant threat to life safety. • Loss of emergency vehicular access (i.e., cuts off access to residents.) • Flooding a septic field that could impact other properties (i.e., flooded field can run off to other lower lying properties.)

2. Impact to Okotoks Infrastructure • Damage to road infrastructure or those requiring protective measures to prevent damage (e.g. water & wastewater treatment plants, etc).

3. Damage to Property • Property negatively impacted as a result of Town-owned infrastructure. • The Town will not respond to reports of flooded basements or private property not directly a result of Town-owned infrastructure.

4. Loss of Business • Restricted access and/or ability to operate. • Damage or loss of building structure. • The Town will not respond to reports of flooded golf courses, fields, or agricultural lands, except in cases where Town-owned infrastructure or Town approved developments are a direct cause. For more information contact:

Resident and business flood preparedness handbook  
Resident and business flood preparedness handbook  

The Town of Okotoks Flood Action Plan has been developed and updated yearly to provide an effective response to a flood incident. This handb...