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Calgary mayor warns that the worst is yet to come as rivers burst banks

Large swaths of Calgary become watery ghost town


 

Flooding in High River, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press)

 

 

 

CALGARY – Calgary’s mayor is warning that the worst of the flooding is yet to come after a significant portion of his city’s population spent the night pulling back to higher ground.

“I grew up here. I spent a lot of time on the Bow and Elbow Rivers and I have never seen the river that high or that fast,” Naheed Nenshi said at a news conference early Friday morning.

Heavy rains eight years ago caused flood damage to about 40,000 Calgary homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 1,500 Calgarians. It resulted in $275 million in insured losses.

Nenshi said this is worse.

“The Bow River, when I saw it, looked like you were looking at an ocean. And I was there standing on that same bridge in 2005 and this is no comparison.”

Low-lying areas along the river started to flood Thursday night and there was water filling up some underpasses.

There was water in the streets of the Bowness area in the city’s northwest. The city has not said to what extent any homes have been flooded.

Entire neighbourhoods all along the two rivers have been cleared of inhabitants. City officials have estimated that as many as 100,000 could be out of their homes.

Police urged people to stay away from downtown and not go to work. All schools — both Catholic and public — are closed, while Catholic schools in Chestermere, Airdrie and Cochrane were also to be shuttered.

The Calgary Zoo, located on St. George’s Island, closed its gates and started taking steps “to secure and move animals to safe locations.”

Contingency plans called for big cats, such as lions and tigers, to be moved into prisoner cells at the Calgary courthouse. But the city said that hadn’t happened yet.

The Calgary mayor spent Thursday night and Friday morning hours touring all the affected areas.

He said it appeared that the smaller Elbow river had reached its peak. The same could not be said for the larger Bow.

“Particularly on the Bow, the worst is yet to come. We anticipate that when we see release from dams upstream of Calgary, we will see a flow rate in the Bow River that might be 30 or 35 per cent higher than even what it is right now.”

When Calgary officials began their evacuations, they found some people were steadfastly determined to stay.

Deputy police chief Trevor Daroux said all officers could do was stress the dangers of staying, but admitted officers aren’t in a position to remove anyone physically.

“These are hazardous areas,” he said. “There will not be power once the areas are evacuated, and gas as well. So we’re asking people to please comply and leave on their own.”

Police were also concerned about the possibility of looters taking advantage of the thousands of empty homes.

“That’s why we have a plan in place. And as we evacuate the area, we will be backfilling with security forces.”

The traditional Edmonton-Calgary rivalry went by the wayside, with the capital city promising to send 100 of its police officers today to help out where needed.

It had been a rainy week throughout much of Alberta, but on Thursday the Bow River Basin was battered with up to 100 millimetres of rain. Environment Canada’s forecast calls for more rain today in the area, but in much smaller amounts.

Calgary is not alone in its weather-related woes. There were flashpoints of chaos from Banff and Canmore and Crowsnest Pass in the Rockies and south to Lethbridge.

More than a dozen towns declared states of emergency, with entire communities including High River and Bragg Creek under mandatory evacuation orders.

Officials in High River estimated half of the people in its town have experienced flooding in their homes. People had to be rescued from some rooftops by boat or in buckets of heavy machinery. Others swam for their lives from stranded cars.

The RCMP called in the military, which sent two helicopters and a Hercules aircraft to help rescue those stranded in areas where roads had been washed out.

Pictures from inside the mountain town of Canmore also a raging river ripping at the foundations of homes.

Near Black Diamond on Thursday, the Highwood River also swept away two people. One was found, but the second — a woman — is still missing.

The impact of the weather has been felt as far afield as British Columbia, where roads in the mountains were being closed, and Saskatchewan, where outflows were increased at the Gardiner Dam in anticipation of the coming crest.

Alberta’s municipal affairs minister said the government will move quickly to help out the affected communities.

“It’s beyond a doubt that this is a disaster situation, that we’re going to have to manage very quickly. People need to move because, once the floodwaters subside, people don’t want to wait to see what’s going to happen,” said Doug Griffiths.

“They want to see what action is now. So we’re going to be there to assist municipalities in assessing the damage and moving as quickly as we can.”

Griffiths said he intended to tour Calgary, High River, Canmore and Lethbridge to assess the damage. He said the devastation in High River is especially shocking.

“If you’ve seen the videos and the pictures, the amount of water that was moving that fast — we are very fortunate that no one has lost their lives,” said Griffiths.

Bruce Burrell, director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said water levels on the Bow River aren’t expected to subside until Saturday afternoon.

“Depending on the extent of flooding we experience overnight, there may be areas of the city where people are not going to be able to get into until the weekend,” he told a news conference.


 
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Calgary mayor warns that the worst is yet to come as rivers burst banks

  1. Does anyone know how the ‘Burdette’ family is doing? They live in Cochrane..they aren’t in high land at all and their kids are my favorite pair of cousins.. not to mention what we think might end up in the swimming of the olympics pretty soon, my grandma is pretty much at the highest point possible in that town so I’m not really concerned about her but their my cousins.. It would mean the world to me to know their safe, espaicailly considering it’s my birthday in 5 days

    • So far things are okay in Cochrane but alerts are changing all of the time due to ongoing rain. You can keep up to date by going visiting the city of cochrane’s website. Just google it and it will tell you of any evacuation information.

  2. Once the immediate crisis is over, the political implications of this natural disaster will be fascinating.

    How will the fiscal conservatives in the Alberta Conservative Party, in WILDROSE, and in the federal conservatives justify spending billions of public dollars rebuilding on flood plains rather than elsewhere? How will region with the most fiscally conservative voters in the country justify it?

    For the “ideologically pure”, it should mean rethinking Southern Alberta completely.

    • !D!OT

    • Well I don’t know about Calgary being built on a “flood plain” but I can tell you that we usually have average precipitation more typical of a desert. We have been warned that with climate change we will be experiencing increasing droughts, not floods.
      This is a completely unprecedented event. Although we have had flooding in certain neighborhoods in the past, today we have the Calgary zoo completely under water. That zoo has been open since 1929 and this has never happened before. I have lived in my home for 23 years and have never had flooding. I am evacuated. The stampede park is flooded. If it doesn’t stop raining, the stampede might be cancelled. THAT hasn’t happened in 100 years! Oh, I think we will cleanup and where needed, rebuilt. Then we will wait for the increased droughts to come our way.

      • Yes, you’re on a floodplain…..most cities are because it was the earliest transportation system

        I don”t know who warned you of droughts….the standard for all of it is ‘extreme’ weather. Of any kind. Bigger floods, bigger droughts, worse snowstorms, stronger tornadoes……..

        I’m sorry to hear you’ve been evac’d, but glad to hear you have access to a computer.

        • !D!OT #2

          • And here I just told someone you were at least civil. LOL

          • How pseudonyms are you posting under now?

            Or should I say alternate personalities?

            Your shrink must get shits and giggles from you………….heh

          • I’ve always posted as Emily….no one else.

            Your paranoia is getting away from you again. LOL

          • I have paranoia Emily, you need psychiatric help or are you already in the psych ward?

          • Correction;

            I have paranoia Emily?

            You need psychiatric help or are you already in the psych ward?

          • Billy…we all know it’s Friday.

            But I’m not interested in listening to you and Jack Daniels

            Off you go now. Make an early night of it.

          • Emily you ignorant bitch, I don’t drink, go see your shrink.

          • You mean you’re this stupid sober??

            Go to bed anyway….take the sexism with you

          • Bitch, literally meaning a female dog, is a common slang term in the English language, especially used as a denigrating
            term applied to a person, commonly a woman. It often refers to someone
            who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, rudely intrusive, and/or
            aggressive.

          • Go back to bed. Your head isn’t clear yet.

            (assuming it ever gets that way)

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