Flooding Forces 75,000 From Homes In Canada

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jun 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-21 12:36:42-04

canada flooding(CNN) — By turns shocked and amused, Calgary, Alberta, residents watched Friday as muddy brown water flowed through the streets of Canada’s “Cowtown,” part of a monstrous flood that has forced tens of thousands from their homes yet hasn’t caused a single injury.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever seen water flow through the streets,” Calgary resident Rylan Broadbent told CNN Friday after evacuating his apartment building in the Erlton neighborhood, next to the overflowing Elbow River.

Others were more melancholy about the scope of the flooding, which forced about 75,000 residents out of their homes, transformed many streets into flowing rivers and left the heart of the city largely deserted.

Clean water continued to flow to homes, but power was out in portions of the city– famous for the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo. Some shelters were filled to capacity, Calgary officials said Friday. Schools were closed.

“Not going to lie, it’s a bit emotional seeing this happen to my/our city,” local radio host Roger Kingkade posted to Twitter.

Emergency officials praised the calm, orderly evacuations overnight of 25 Calgary neighborhoods, but pleaded with gawkers to stay away from flooded areas and asked residents to stay off the telephone so emergency workers could be sure to get a connection. The city had to take down its overwhelmed website.

The emergency in Calgary comes a day after rain-swollen rivers burst from their banks in southern Alberta, ripping out roads, swallowing houses and cutting off communities.

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Authorities declared a state of emergency in several cities, including the mountain town of Canmore, where on Thursday, raging water tore out a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway.

“Like everything, everything, is destroyed there — our homes, like everything,” Alberta resident Melanie Atkinson, who lost her home in the flooding, toldCanadian broadcaster CBC.

Rescue crews used heavy construction equipment to rescue people from homes and businesses Thursday in High River, the network reported.

Canada’s military was pitching in with helicopters and other assets to help local officials with rescue and evacuation efforts, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those families who have been affected by the serious flooding in Calgary and Southern Alberta,” Harper said, adding that the federal government would provide “any and all possible assistance.”

No deaths or injuries have been reported.

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In Calgary, officials closed many bridges as water levels became dangerously high. The city zoo closed and began moving animals to safer locations.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said one of the city’s two rivers — the Elbow — had crested, but it appeared that the other — the Bow — was still rising. Emergency officials have said they expect the river to remain high through at least Saturday.

Calgary police said they were patrolling evacuated areas to ensure that vacant homes and businesses would remain as safe as possible.

The flooding was caused by a slow-moving storm that dumped 154 millimeters (more than 6 inches) of rain on the region from Wednesday to Thursday, CNN meteorologist Sherri Pugh said. As much as another inch of rain, about 25 millimeters, is possible northwest of Calgary on Friday, and yet another front is expected Monday, bringing the threat of more rain.

Calgary, near the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is perhaps best known for its rodeo, held each July. More than 1.4 million people attended last year, organizers say.

This year’s Stampede events are due to begin in 13 days.

Calgary authorities are using the park where the stampede is held as a staging area for flood response efforts. It will probably see some flooding, organizers said early Friday.

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