Disasters can happen when you least expect them but having plans for what to do in an emergency situation will help you respond efficiently, minimize loss (especially of irreplaceable items) and rebuild in a timely manner.
What the Alberta floods of 2013 taught us, beyond the need to be prepared, is the ability of a community to pull together to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
This was demonstrated time and time again by the Calgary arts community, as volunteers rallied to help artists and organizations and Alberta Arts Flood Rebuild became a hub for providing services and aid in all forms. Regardless of geographical region or arts discipline, the community worked tirelessly to leave no one behind.
This arts-centred disaster preparedness plan addresses protection of professional artwork and equipment, recognizing that the personal safety of you and your colleagues is paramount and must be considered above all.
The plan focuses on flooding, but resources for preparation for and recovery from other emergencies can be found on the Government of Canada’s and Government of Alberta’s Hazards and Emergencies websites.
We thank many individuals and organizations for their input into this plan, including the Federation of Calgary Communities who shared their compilation of general flood resources with us.
Plan Ahead: Flood Preparation
- Catalogue Your Work: By having records of your collections (and your materials and equipment), you increase the possibility of minimizing losses and aiding the recovery process.
- Storage: Review where your equipment and finished work are stored for the possibility of fire, flood and other disasters, and if possible, do not store it all together in one place. Put the most precious items in the safest locations if storage is limited. Consider renting storage sheds or housing them with family and friends. Give extra consideration to irreplaceable items.
- Backups: Create digital backups of artwork, photographs and business files, and store a copy offsite. Consider Cloud storage.
- Have Appropriate Insurance: A home studio requires additional professional or corporate insurance for equipment and studio protection. Consider work interruption insurance as well.
- The Calgary Musicians Association has a contact for preferred rates for General Liability and Property coverage for many types of performers (including musicians, singers, dancers, DJs, actors, buskers, street performers, karaoke operators, rock/pop bands and more) through PAL Insurance Brokers.
- Exclusive insurance rates for members of the Canadian Federation of Musicians are available at cfmusicians.org.
- SOCAN offers an insurance program for music publishers, producers and songwriters.
- CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/le Front des artistes canadiens) has a similar insurance program for visual artists in Ontario and Quebec, and Visual Arts Alberta is working to expand that to Alberta and BC.
- Check with your industry association to learn of insurance programs for different disciplines.
Make Your Own Emergency Plan
- Emergency Contacts: Keep an Emergency Contact List in an accessible location (both electronic and hard copies).
- Emergency Alerts: Sign up to receive emergency alerts through email and social media. See Stay Informed below.
- Salvage Plan: Prioritize your work and equipment into a salvage order. This can be managed in a document, by location of items in your space or by colour-coded dots on items. Keep salvage supplies on hand.
- Home Studio and Home Office Prep: If you have a home studio or home office, there are checklists on The City of Calgary’s What Can I Do To Prepare? page to protect against flooding in your home and on your property. Click here to visit the flood preparation site.
- Alternate Work Arrangements: Consider alternate spaces for work, rehearsal and storage in the event of a disaster. Creating a temporary work space as soon as possible greatly aids the recovery process. Formulate logistics for moving materials from the building.
- Collection-Holding Plan Creation: If your organization is a library, archive, museum, historical society or other collection-holding institution, consider visiting dplan.org and creating a disaster response plan for your organization. dPlan is a free online tool that can help you create a plan for both disaster prevention and response. It was designed specifically for small- and medium-sized institutions that do not have in-house preservation staff, or that need to develop separate but related plans for multiple buildings, locations or branches.
- Flood Mitigation: The Government of Alberta also has a list of flood resources.
- Included on this page is a link to Flood Mitigation, which includes “information for homeowners and small businesses located in the flood fringe regarding the minimum flood mitigation measures to satisfy conditions for future Disaster Recovery Program funding.”
- Flood Mitigation Building Code Standards STANDATA (August 15, 2013)
Information for homeowners located in the flood fringe regarding the minimum flood mitigation measures for complete rebuilds to satisfy conditions for future Disaster Recovery Program funding.
- Complete rebuild Flood Mitigation Building Code Standards STANDATA (September 13, 2013)
Specific questions about building materials and permits that will meet the minimum flood mitigation measures for homes in a flood fringe can be directed to the Alberta Municipal Affairs Safety Services Branch at 1.866.421.6929.
There are several organizations that post ongoing emergency updates and communications to websites and social media.
- Sign up for Emergency Alerts:
- Follow key information sources on social media such as Twitter and Facebook including:
- Government Response:
- Arts Response:
- Contact the appropriate arts union or association for more discipline-specific services, information and funding resources at affta.ab.ca then click on Looking To Connect for more resources.
Flood Recovery Steps & Resources
- Assessment: Assess the damage as soon as you can safely re-enter your home or studio. Document the damage in writing, photographs and video.
- Salvage: Begin cleanup and salvage as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the insurance agent or adjuster, but remember to fully document the damage before recovery efforts begin.
- Do not throw away damaged items; they may be salvageable. Major changes in temperature and humidity can be damaging and collections need to be re-acclimatized gradually.
- Loss: Items that cannot be salvaged should be kept as proof of loss. Isolate contaminated objects. Keep a record of any lost income as well as any items that must be discarded along with photos of those items.
- Activity Records: Also document all major decisions during the disaster and a chronology of events. Record staff and volunteer time spent on recovery efforts.
- Conservation: The stabilization and recovery of collections are aided by a trained specialist who can assess the condition of each object and who can determine the most appropriate action to take based on the object’s susceptibility to damage. Contact a local conservator or a conservation agency; Calgary’s Glenbow is an expert resource as is the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton.
- If conservation assistance is not available locally, call the Canadian Conservation Institute (collect) at 613.998.3721 as soon as possible. You may call this number at any time of the day or night. Be sure to let the CCI Commissionaire answering the telephone know that you have an emergency.
- Faculty at Queen’s University Art Conservation program can also help.
- Archival Materials: For disaster planning and recovery of archival materials, read the Canadian Council of Archives Basic Conservation of Archival Materials.
- City of Calgary Recovery Information: The City of Calgary has a flood recovery website containing updates, information for property owners, and more.
- Home and Studio Restoration:
- Alberta Health Services information on cleaning your home after a flood
- Government of Canada information on restoring your home after a flood
- Canadian Red Cross document on flood recovery and mould clean up
- Federation of Calgary Communities Flood Information and Resources
- Tips for handling flooded gardens: A key point is to not eat leafy crops; although they can be composted.
- Emotional Distress: For Calgary Family Services’ compilation of resources on recovering emotionally from a disaster.
- Other mental health services: Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line is 1.877.303.2642 and a list of services.
- Other Resources:
- Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) plans and coordinates emergency services and resources during major emergencies and disasters. According to CEMA, being prepared in a crisis situation leads to a stronger, more resilient community. You can find all of CEMA’s resources on their website. Resources include:
- The City of Calgary’s full Flood Information manual
- Province of Alberta Disaster Recovery Program
Proposed changes to these plans will involve amending the rules around how property owners can develop in the future. The City is focused on ensuring flood risk reduction measures are in place to increase safety and minimize risk in the event of a future flood. This may include, but is not limited to, specifying main floor, electrical and mechanical system placement above the designated flood elevation. In addition, any redevelopment in the floodway will be required to go through a discretionary review process with The City.
On June 9, 2014, Council amended the Calgary Land Use Bylaw and the Calgary Municipal development plan in order to ensure that the city had the ability to hold new development and redevelopment in the flood way, flood fringe and overland flow (i.e. the flood hazard areas) to a standard suitable to the location of these properties.
The changes affect the rebuilding of single family homes along with redevelopment of those homes, requiring them to take some steps to help mitigate against damage in a future flood.
Disaster Preparation Checklist
- Catalogue your work.
- Store work in locations safe from hazards and in multiple locations if possible.
- Create digital backups of artwork, photographs and business files.
- Have appropriate equipment, studio and business interruption insurance.
- Keep a current emergency contact list in an accessible location (both electronic and hard copies).
- Sign up to receive emergency alerts through email and social media.
- Protect your studio and home office against flooding.
- Create a disaster response plan for yourself or your organization.
During a Disaster
- Assess the damage as soon as you can safely re-enter your home or studio. Document the damage and the steps you take in writing, photographs and video.
- Do not throw away damaged items as they may be salvageable. Items that cannot be salvaged should be kept as proof of loss. Isolate contaminated objects.
- Keep a record of any lost income.
- Contact a local conservator or conservation agency.
Calgary Emergency Contacts
Ambulance, Fire, Police 9.1.1
Gas Emergency – ATCO Gas 403.245.7222
Electrical Emergency – ENMAX Power 403.514.6100
Water Emergency – City of Calgary 3.1.1
All other Calgary services 3.1.1
Poison Control Centre 1.800.332.1414
HEALTHLink Alberta 1.866.408.5465 (LINK)
Mental Health Helpline 1.877.303.2642
Red Cross Alberta 1.800.418.1111
Alberta community and social services directory 2.1.1
Calgary Arts Development 403.264.5330
Alberta Foundation for the Arts 310.000, then 780.427.9968