On June 21st, nearly 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses in Calgary while officials went door-to-door warning people to relocate to safer locations and avoid the risk of flooding. Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest energy company, was one of many businesses forced to close.
Calgary imposed a state of emergency, and 26 communities were ordered to evacuate. Calgary is one of 12 communities within Alberta facing a state of emergency. Both the Bow and Elbow Rivers have overflowed their banks. Electricity and gas was shut off downtown, while the city’s core was a watery disaster, with debris floating through the streets.
All across southern Alberta, over a dozen towns declared a state of emergency. Entire communities, such as High River and Bragg Creek, were under mandatory evacuation orders. The Elbow River reached its highest point. However, the Bow River hasn’t—It’s not expected to subside until Saturday afternoon, and it’s possible for the Bow River to rise another 30 percent.
“We are in a position where I, in all my life in Calgary, have never seen the Bow River rise that high or that fast,” said Naheed Nenshi, Calgary’s Mayor.
West of Calgary, in Canmore, entire properties were at risk of washing away as the Cougar Creek began to erode its banks. The evacuation process was very rushed, giving residents and business owners a limited amount of time to grab their belongings. As the rising river began to threaten the homes of many residents, Gerald Walsh was among those who were forced to evacuate.
“It’s amazing how little the material things mean to you, so we just grabbed maybe two buckets of stuff.” Walsh said.
In Canmore, evacuated residents were trapped in the community, and unable to head east because of a mudslide that was blocking the TransCanada Highway, or to go west to Banff as the town is inaccessible due to washed out bridges.
The military was called in to help with evacuations in some of the communities that were hit hard, including High River. Two helicopters and a Hercules aircraft were sent to pull stranded residents from rooftops.
High River, located south of Calgary, was one of the hardest hit communities in the province. Main roads became flooded, there’s no power, and military helicopters are going in to collect residents. Turner Valley and Black Diamond are among the hardest hit communities as well.
In Black Diamond, two people were swept away by the Highwood River. One of these people was found, however, a woman is still missing.
And even more bad news as rainfall warnings for parts of southern Alberta have been issued by Environment Canada. Approximately 100 millimeters of rain can be expected in the following days.