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The flood of 2013

What was the impact of the flood?

The flood that occurred in June 2013 was the largest flood in Calgary since 1932. Sadly, five lives were lost and as much as $6 billion in financial losses and property damage were sustained across southern Alberta.

Evacuees and people whose homes were flooded faced trauma, loss, and either rebuilding or the permanent loss of their home. Flooding disrupted businesses, damaged critical infrastructure and led to power outages across some parts of Calgary.

View photos of the flood's impact and resulting damage.

How did the flooding start?

Heavy rainfall on the melting snowpack in the Rocky Mountains combined with steep, rocky terrain caused rapid and intense flooding in several southern-Alberta watersheds.

As the waters rushed towards Calgary, The City issued a flood warning, activated the Municipal Emergency Plan, declared a state of local emergency and gave an evacuation notice for communities at risk. Approximately 80,000 people were evacuated over the course of the flood.

How did The City respond to flooding?

To respond to impending flooding, The City lowered the water level in the Glenmore Reservoir to maximize the quantity of water captured by the reservoir to reduce flooding without impacting the treatment plant’s operations to supply safe drinking water quality for Calgarians.

Temporary flood barriers were constructed at many critical locations throughout the city. Without these flood response measures, damage to Calgary would have been much more devastating.

Despite these measures, the river over topped its banks on the Elbow and Bow Rivers. Extensive emergency response was required across 32 communities in Calgary, and the downtown was inaccessible for days.

Significant damage to both private and public property occurred by overland flooding, rising groundwater, storm water back-up and sewer back-up. The impact on citizens was immense.

How often have floods like 2013 happened in Calgary?

Although the 2013 flood was the largest in recent memory, it was within the natural range for the Bow River.

Our historical records indicate that floods of similar size occurred in 1879, 1897 and 1902.

Other large floods occurred in 1929 and 1932 on both the Elbow and the Bow Rivers. No floods of the magnitude of the 2013 event have occurred since 1932.

The cost of the 2013 flood

The emotional and health impacts of the 2013 flood impacted Calgarians significantly. The financial costs continue to be shared by individuals, private companies, insurers, and the taxpayers of The City of Calgary, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada.

The full impact of the flood across Alberta has been assessed at approximately $5 billion. The City’s Flood Recovery Task Force identified a total of $409 million in damages to City of Calgary infrastructure alone.

Other costs include $55 Million to cover the emergency response for Calgary, and $323 million for recovery costs. Since 2013, The City and Government of Alberta have invested an additional $150 million in flood mitigation and resilience projects to help mitigate the risk of future flooding.

Images from the 2013 flood