If you live in Beisker and get a knock at your door in the next few weeks, don't be afraid to answer it.  It might not be an election candidate seeking your vote.  

It just might be a volunteer from the Canadian Red Cross and you could be a part of a pilot project taking place in the community and two others in Rocky View Country.

The Red Cross is looking for new ways to help homeowners prepare for flood risks as their homes and prepare for flood-related emergencies.  Mark Holzer, Emergency Management Manager in Alberta for the Canadian Red Cross says the reason the Rocky View communities of Beisker, Bragg Creek and Langdon were chosen for the project is because of their experience with severe flooding in southern Alberta during the 2013 flood, and periodic spring flooding that has affected various communities in the county.

Holzer explains the idea behind the pilot project saying, "This program was developed with the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and the University of Waterloo.  The Red Cross, through our Disaster Risk Reduction Program, has developed some information that we're able to provide to residents to help reduce their risk of flooding.  Having an understanding of where the flooding comes from into their homes as well as measures that they can take to reduce that."

The program will give residents step they can take to reduce the risk of flooding in their homes.  Red Cross volunteers will be in the three communities beginning tomorrow (March 30) through April 17th.  The information they'll be disseminating will cover all types of flooding, from sewer backup to overland flooding and major floods like 2013 in southern Alberta.  The volunteers will not need to enter homes but will make sure residents are aware of some simple tips and suggestions that could help reduce the risk to their home.  Things like, clearing debris from the nearest storm drain that may be blocking the drainage of water and storing valuables in watertight containers and moving them off the basement floor.

Since the program was developed in part by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, we asked Holzer if he buys into the notion that climate change is the greatest reason that we are experiencing an increase in natural disasters.

"I think that it is, becoming more of a factor," says Holzer.  "To what extent, there's still debate going on but we are seeing increases in weather-related disasters, both in the intensity and frequency."

At the conclusion of the project, the Red Cross will evaluate the success of this method of educating and working with communities. If they consider it a success, the program will be offered in other communities.  Holzer says volunteers have a goal to knock on 1,000 doors in the three communities.  

Flooding is one of the most common environmental hazards in Canada. Between 1918 and 2018, there were 302 major flood events in Canada, accounting for over one third (37 percent) of natural disasters occurring in the country during that time, according to Public Safety Canada.  Studies by the University of Waterloo suggest that most Canadians are unaware of the risks.  On average, only six percent of Canadians are aware of the flood risks in their area.

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