Expect the Unexpected Booklet

Date / Period
Object Type
Books, Guides and Manuals
Canadian Red Cross
Disaster Management

The flooding which struck Quebec’s Saguenay region in 1996 was considered Canada’s first billion-dollar disaster. Four days of heavy rain starting on July 18 proved too much to handle for the infrastructure surrounding waterways feeding into the Saguenay River and Lac-Saint-Jean. Due to mudslides and washouts, nearly 500 homes were destroyed, while 16,000 people were evacuated. Ten died, making it the nation’s deadliest flood since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

Those impacted by the flooding were aided by 1,700 Canadian Red Cross volunteers, who provided comfort kits, food, and other forms of relief. “I met a woman affected by the disaster who had lost everything because her house was contaminated by fungus,” Chicoutimi Red Cross employee Patricia Simard recalled a decade later. “She was holding a bag of medicine. It was all she had left. Her kids had no more toys, no more stuffed animals. I spoke to my colleagues and the distribution of toys was added to one of the relief phases.” The Quebec branch of the Red Cross was inspired to provide a stuffed bear to each child affected by future disasters of the province.

"She was holding a bag of medicine. It was all she had left. Her kids had no more toys, no more stuffed animals."

Beyond Quebec, children benefitted from the lessons the Red Cross learned from the flood. After conducting an analysis in affected communities, the Red Cross discovered that children were severely affected by the disaster, and that teachers wanted tools to help address in their classrooms concerns about emergencies. Working with the Quebec government, the “Expect the Unexpected” program was developed to teach students about natural disasters, and how they could mentally and physically prepare for such emergencies.

“Expect the Unexpected” was rolled out across Canada within a few years, and has undergone continuous refinement as different disasters occur. Along with its partner initiative “Facing Fear,” the program had gained recognition from national educational and psychological associations, and is being used by educators and Red Cross affiliates around the world. 

Expect the Unexpected Booklet

Expect the Unexpected Booklet
Expect the Unexpected Booklet
Saguenay floods

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