Provincial grant helps town equip for floods

Okotoks. Nearly $1.4 million grant to buy new emergency equipment

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am

An Okotoks resident walks through the water in last year’s flood. The Town of Okotoks has received a nearly $1.4 million grant from the Provincial government for new equipment.
An Okotoks resident walks through the water in last year’s flood. The Town of Okotoks has received a nearly $1.4 million grant from the Provincial government for new equipment.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Work to prepare for this year’s flood season in Okotoks is getting a substantial boost from the provincial government.

The Town of Okotoks has received nearly $1.4 million from the Province to purchase extra equipment to ensure the Town is prepared if the water rises on the Sheep River this year.

Okotoks mayor Bill Robertson said this will help the Town respond to other emergencies, not just floods.

“It could be used in any kind of a disaster because there are certainly more than just floods that could hit our region,” he said.

The funds will go towards the purchase of a list of items, including new pumps, water rescue gear, sandbags and portable flood dikes. As well, $50,000 will go towards a new mass emergency notification system.

Officials from the Town of Okotoks are keeping a close watch on the Sheep River as spring finally arrives and preparing for whatever Mother Nature throws at them this year.

Robertson said Okotoks is ready for this year’ spring runoff season and protecting people is priority number one.

“I think the Town is well prepared, based on what we learned last year, especially now that we’ve been given extra money we haven’t counted on,” he said.

Robertson said the Town learned from last year, particularly about how it hands out sandbags for residents and businesses near the river.

The Town has changed how it will distribute sandbags this year. Sandbags will be dropped off at seven locations along Riverside Drive and South Railway Street for people to pick up.

Robertson said people don’t always have much time to respond, so this will help them to have a place nearby to get sandbags.

“Deploying sandbags is very timely, in particular getting them out there early enough, but also getting them in the right locations,” he said.

Robertson said the Town is also making sure it can get volunteers out to help hand out sandbags.

The Town is also looking at a new emergency notification system.

Ken Thevenot, Okotoks Fire chief, said the Town is looking at the same system that was recently switched on in the Town of High River and the MD of Foothills expects to turn on in the next couple weeks.

“We’re researching it right now, we’re looking to move to a notification system,” he said.

The system now being used in High River allows residents to choose a number of different ways they want to be contacted, including phone, text and e-mail. There are also apps available for iPhones and Android mobile phones. Emergency notices will also be sent through the Alberta Emergency Alert system, local radio and the Town’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages. The Town will also use sirens located through the community to alert residents to a coming emergency.

Thevenot said the fire department is keeping track of the river monitoring systems in place and Town personnel are also undertaking training and mock exercises in the next month to be prepared.

“We feel we’re ready,” he said.


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