The city of Calgary declares a state of local emergency as the rivers grow

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The province has also issued flood warnings for several rivers and streams

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June 13, 2022 • 4 minutes ago • 5 minutes reading • 25 comments The flooded road under the 25th Avenue Bridge in Erlton was closed when the Elbow River rose with constant rain to the Calgary Forecast on Monday, June 13 of 2022. Gavin Young / Postmedia

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Calgary City Council has declared a state of local emergency in response to a projected rainstorm that is increasing the risk of local flooding.

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Heavy rains are expected to continue to melt the higher-than-usual mountain snow cover, increasing flows and water levels in several rivers, prompting the province to issue several flood warnings to the south. and downtown Alberta. Environment Canada issued a rain warning on Sunday, estimating that Calgary and nearby mountainous regions will see between 75 and 125 millimeters of rain on Wednesday morning, with localized amounts of up to 150 mm.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the city is making the statement as a precaution, mainly so that police and firefighters can go door to door to inform people if there is an evacuation order. It will also allow the city’s water service teams to access the properties as needed to protect the infrastructure and the order also gives the administration some “buying flexibility”. The statement will expire after 14 days and may be terminated if necessary.

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“We’ve been through two years of uncertainty and unpredictability in which Calgary people have been incredibly patient, compassionate, and kind to each other,” Gondek told a news conference Monday afternoon.

“I must ask you again for your kindness and patience.”

While the order recalls many of the devastating floods of 2013, which caused an estimated $ 6 billion in damage and killed at least five people, Gondek assured residents that river levels are currently “significantly lower than we saw in 2013 “.

A pedestrian walks along the river path to Eau Claire while heavy rain falls on Monday. Gavin Young / Postmedia

The city began preparing for flood mitigation efforts Sunday before the floodwaters, lowering water levels in the upstream Bow River Reservoirs and Glenmore Reservoir to make room for the planned floodwaters, while taking other precautions.

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The city plans to install a temporary berm along Memorial Drive. Road closures at Memorial were scheduled to begin at midnight, between 10th Street SW and Edmonton Trail NE, to accommodate the berm installation, the city said in a press release.

The city expects the rains to affect the Bow more than the Elbow, and the city is confident in its ability to manage the flow in the Elbow.

“At this point, river flows are not expected to cause widespread flooding above the shore, but there will be communities affected,” said Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Sue Henry.

“We will see some basic leaks in the basement and some areas along the rivers. If you have a tank pump, now is the time to make sure it works. “

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The city said the highest risk of flooding lies in the Bowness and Sunnyside communities along the Bow River. The flow of the river is expected to reach its maximum on Wednesday or Thursday in the early afternoon.

“I want to emphasize that while the flows are not expected to be as significant as in 2013 … they are significant,” said Calgary Water Resources Director Francois Bouchart.

Henry also urged Calgarians to stay out of the Bow and Elbow rivers until conditions return to normal.

Since 2013, the city has made significant investments in flood prevention, including a flood barrier in the city center that crosses the city center from the Peace Bridge to the Reconciliation Bridge. The city said the improvements have reduced Calgary’s flood risk by 55 percent and potential flood damage by $ 90 million each year.

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Prince Island River Cafe has closed and began moving perishable food off the island on Monday. Gavin Young / Postmedia

At an independent press conference on Monday afternoon, Parks and Environment Minister Jason Nixon said this was a tense time for many Albertans, especially those affected by the 2013 floods. relies much more on Alberta’s ability to handle major weather events like this thanks to significant investments over the past 10 years. Nixon said the province has contacted the city of Calgary and surrounding rural towns to prepare for the rains.

“One issue in all the emergencies Alberta has faced is this: we are together, we will work together,” he said. “We are resilient people and stand by our neighbors.”

Calgary’s River Cafe, located along the Bow River in Prince Island Park, proactively closes the store and takes its perishable food and wine out of the restaurant as the river level rises. Homeowner Sal Howell said her cafeteria was damaged by floods in both 2005 and 2013 and is not at risk this year.

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“After two damaging floods we can’t wait and see what happens,” Howell said, adding that staff will be re-evaluating the situation throughout the week. “Prince’s Island Park is on the waterway. The restaurant where everyone knows how to dine is pretty high, but our lower level is like a basement, so we’re very vulnerable there.”

Staff begin the task of transporting perishable food from a basement refrigerator to the River Cafe. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Flood warnings

The province has issued flood warnings for several rivers and streams. The Alberta River Forecast Center has issued flood warnings for Bow River near Banff, Canmore and Exshaw, and for areas of Little Red Deer River and Red Deer River southwest of Red Deer. The stretches of the Bow and Elbow rivers near Calgary are under flood watch, as are the Highwood River and Fish Creek in High Level and Foothills County. Several Highwood tributaries in the area are on a high flow warning.

The Bow is expected to be the hardest hit in the Banff and Canmore area with a total of between 90 and 150 mm of rain, according to river forecasters. The Highwood River, which crosses the High River, will be between 100 and 130 mm.

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For the Bow River Basin, the River Forecast Center said water level increases of one to two meters are possible, as well as leaks and flooding in the basement. The Elbow could see small floods off the bank upstream of the Glenmore Reservoir and the trails may be affected downstream. The water is approaching the lower deck of the Center Street Bridge at High Level, but the flows are expected to remain in the dike system.

The town of Banff says the trails near the river will be closed and sandbags are being prepared. Encourage residents to register for their emergency alert system at The city of Canmore says more than 50mm of rain will cause flooding in low-lying areas and continues to monitor the situation. The town closed the road under the Bow River Bridge at Canmore last week and more roads may be closed. There are currently no active sandbags on the banks of the river in any of the communities.

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High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass said the city does not expect a flood risk near 2013 levels, especially with improved infrastructure and the purchase of some properties at risk since that event. . Anticipating a less severe impact on Highwood than in 2013, Snodgrass said the city is not worried about the rain coming in “but we’re not complacent either.”

“We know very well what we have experienced in the past and we will never take our eyes off this river, especially at this time of year,” Snodgrass said. “If you look at the river, the color of the river, the smell outside, all these things, it brings back a lot of memories for us all.”

Still, Snodgrass said the city is confident in its ability to protect residents from another major flood event.

“We are a long way from ever proving the actual amount of what our infrastructure can support,” he said.

– With files by Jason Herring

Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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