During the 2013 flood in Calgary, people panicked and rushed to the grocery stores in affected areas, stocking up on food in case of a shortage

THUMBFlood-2According to a city government report, a food shortage may have been a possibility during the 2013 Calgary flood. However, some emergency planning experts deny this claim.

The City of Calgary’s Calgary Eats report states, “In the flood of 2013, Calgary had enough food on grocery store shelves for three days. Had the city been cut off from external supply for a longer period of time, Calgary could have experienced a food shortage.”

Vicki Megrath, communications leader for the Flood Recovery Operations Centre stated in an email interview, “There were no food shortages experienced during the 2013 flood in Calgary.”

The city did not provide further comment.

Brian Fleming, a professor in the supply chain management program at Mount Royal University says it’s quite possible, that in light of the flood, there may have been a concern of food shortage.

“The impression that it’s presenting is logical with input and output. Where you can’t get product into food stores because of flooding and so forth and it’s possible and probable that there were concerns of running out of food.”

Fleming also believes that today, we are much more prepared than before the flood.

“Research shows that immediately after a crisis people are very concerned and establish betterCalgary Flood 2013Flood waters ripped through the lower laying areas of Bowness.

Photo by Devyn Ens preparation and the further away from a crisis, people are less likely prepared. We are better prepared today than before the flood in 2013.”

However, Tony Messer, the president and chief executive officer of Caliber Planning Emergency states that the scarcity of food during the flood is an overstatement.

“This is stretching things a bit, in my opinion. I’m sure there were certain stores in the flood zones that were cut off from supply trucks for a couple of days and therefore were selling out of some items,” says Messer. “The reality is that most truck routes in and out of the city were fine and stores outside of the core and flood areas had plenty of food.”

“The reality is that most truck routes in and out of the city were fine and stores outside of the core and flood areas had plenty of food.”

– Tony Messer, president and executive officer of Caliber Planning Emergency 

Lloyd Ash, associate professor of business in supply chain management at Mount Royal University, also believes that Calgary wasn’t at risk for a food shortage.

“Most of the area that flooded in Calgary in 2013 was the Elbow river flood plain. In terms of our food supply, given that none of the food warehouses were in the flood plain, aside from the stores in Mission area, our food was fine.”

The flooding catastrophe was felt by local residents like Daniel Murphy, who lived in S.E Calgary. He had never experienced or seen anything like this before in the 30 years of his life.

“It was surreal, right! Because we had never experienced something like that [flooding] in Calgary. It happened so fast. In an hour, Memorial Drive and Kensington had all flooded.”

As a result, Murphy says he encountered long line-ups at grocery stores during the flood, especially at the downtown Safeway.

“There were tons of people in the Safeway on 12 Avenue and 7 Street S.W. People were lined up buying water and supplies because you couldn’t drink the water,” says Murphy. “They were advisingCalgary flood 2013Flood waters rush under Shouldice Bridge, linking the communities of Bowness and Montgomery.

Photo by Devyn Ens people not to drink tap water. Most people walked to the store from downtown and it was lined up out to the door.”

The line-ups were so long that Murphy says, “people would have fought each other for food if the flood lasted longer.”

Judy Gabriel lived right behind the Stampede grounds also saw the chaos that the flood did to nearby grocery stores.

“All of the Earls’ Restaurant was demolished on 4 street. We couldn’t get to the grocery stores and when the water was drained, I think the city was able to come back and quickly turn things around for people.”

In addition, Gabriel doesn’t believe that there could have been a possible food shortage during the 2013 floods.

“There were non-flooded places with food who could have brought food to those in flooding areas”


To contact the editors responsible for this story; Jordan Kroschinsky at jkroschinsky@cjournal.ca; Evan Manconi atemanconi@cjournal.ca

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