TORNADO - A Report

Date / Period
Edmonton, Alberta
Object Type
Books, Guides and Manuals
Alberta Public Safety Services
Disaster Management

Known as Black Friday, July 31, 1987 is a day remembered for the death and destruction caused by an F4 tornado that shocked the city of Edmonton and surrounding region.

Often cited as one of Canada’s worst natural disasters, the unforgiving tornado took the lives of 27 people and left behind hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Black Friday spurred a new conversation among government and emergency planners about establishing better warning systems for natural disasters and the creation of the Alberta Emergency Public Warning System (EPWS) in 1992.

The EPWS was the first warning system of its kind, using existing media outlets to broadcast critical life-saving information directly to the public as a joint operation between government and broadcasters.

However, without this system in place at the time, the Red Cross was steadfast in helping overwhelmed and surprised residents deal with the tornado aftermath by quickly opening phone lines to those in need of assistance and mobilizing a team of more than 1,300 registered volunteers to help out.

"It wasn’t until the next day that all families were registered and accounted for by the Red Cross."

Red Cross stations quickly became hubs for coordinating emergency social response, processing more than 11,000 inquiries from those affected, distributing food and beverages to displaced families and relief workers, organizing temporary housing for 89 displaced families in the aftermath and set up a Victim Assistance Centre used by roughly 842 families.

It wasn’t until the next day that all families were registered and accounted for by the Red Cross. On August 3, the tornado Victim Assistance Centre was opened at a high school where people could congregate, register lost property, obtain immediate and long term housing assistance, take care of clothing, food, and special needs and have access to stress counseling.

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