In June 2005, Calgary experienced the largest amount of rainfall in its history.
A record 248 millimetres of rain – three times June’s monthly average – fell on the city in three large rainstorms: June 6-8, June 18-19 and June 26-28, generating record high water levels. A state of emergency was declared, and the flood became one of the costliest natural disasters in Alberta’s history.
It is absolutely crucial that people understand the risk near the rivers. Please stay away from all waterways…Calgary Herald, June 19, 2005
The population was over 956,000.
It had been over seventy years since Calgary had experienced a major flood, and many people underestimated the power of the rivers.
Glenmore Dam. (Credit: City of Calgary)
The City's response was coordinated through its Emergency Operations Centre, which worked with external agencies, including Calgary Health Region, Emergency Management Alberta, ENMAX, ATCO and the Calgary Red Cross Society.
Over 2,540 City employees helped manage the response to the heavy rains while emergency staff kept curious onlookers away from the swollen rivers. The 9-1-1 system handled over 6,500 calls between June 18th and the 24th. Water and wastewater employees kept drinking water and sanitary sewer systems safe and water restrictions to a minimum. 1,500 Calgarians living in flood-prone areas were evacuated from their homes.
The rains caused flood damage to about 40,000 Calgary homes, and more than 1,500 Calgarians were evacuated.
The heavy rains washed out paths and roadways, and left picnic areas under water. Much of Calgary's Fish Creek Provincial Park was closed due to damaged pathways and washed-out bridges; pathways along the Elbow River were also closed.
Centre St. Bridge. (Credit: City of Calgary)
The high flows in the rivers washed away bridges and any infrastructure attached. Several pedestrian bridges were damaged or lost during the flooding, including those in Bowness Park, Prince’s Island and Griffiths Woods. The causeway to Prince’s Island was washed way, taking with it a 200 mm waterline and a 100 mm sanitary sewer line.
At the Zoo, sediment and debris accumulated on site. The Moose exhibit and adjacent lagoon system flooded. The moose were moved to the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre at an estimated cost of $1,000. The access road to the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre also suffered damage and was partially washed out, with rehabilitation costs in the range of $5,000.
Although there was no direct damage to any of the historic buildings and exhibits at Fort Calgary, the Deane House suffered water seepage through its walls. At Heritage Park the Gunn Barn sustained damage to its hardwood floors.
The 2005 Alberta Disaster Recovery Program was created under a federal/provincial cost sharing agreement to assist municipalities with the costs they had incurred. The program covered the territory from Red Deer south to the US Border and from Crowsnest Pass east to Medicine Hat. Flood damage costs to the City of Calgary were estimated at $75 million, including $20 million to provincially held infrastructure ($7.5 million for Fish Creek alone).
The 2005 flood identified the need for a new state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). This facility was opened in 2012.
Evacuations ordered as city rivers spill Calgary Herald, June 19, 2005
Flood of 2005: Elbow River neighbours on high alert Calgary Herald June 9, 2005
What good neighbours do when disaster knocks Calgary Herald, June 8, 2005
The flow on the Bow River above its confluence with the Elbow was 791 cubic metres per second.