Friday, June 21, 2013

Calgary neighbourhoods evacuated as floods hit western Canada

The Guardian (UK) via AP: Water levels from heavy flooding in western Canada were expected to peak around noon on Friday, possibly forcing as many as 100,000 people from their homes, officials said. On Thursday, torrential rain and widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta forced the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway and isolated the mountain resort towns of Banff and Canmore. The flooding washed out roads and bridges, left at least one person missing and caused cars, couches and refrigerators to float away.

Communities were hit hard just south of Calgary, a city of more than a million people that hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. Many downtown neighborhoods were evacuated. Officials said the evacuation would take place in stages over the next few days. The province reported that 12 communities were under states of emergency. One woman, who had been stranded on top of a trailer, was missing after it was swept away, said a STARS air ambulance spokesman, Cam Heke.

Motorists who were trapped overnight Wednesday by water spilling over Canada's main western highway had to be rescued by helicopter, said a Town of Canmore spokeswoman, Sally Caudill.

...Bruce Burrell, director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said water levels on the Bow River are not expected to subside until Saturday afternoon. The Bow River Basin has been battered with up to 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain. "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....

Banff National Park Pavillion flooded grounds, circa 1920.

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