At least three people were killed by floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta, leading authorities to evacuate the western Canadian city of Calgary’s entire downtown. Inside the city’s hockey arena, the waters reached as high as the 10th row.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the level of flooding “stunning” and said officials do not know yet if it will get worse, but said the water has peaked and stabilized and added that the weather has improved.
Overflowing rivers washed out roads and bridges, soaked homes and turned streets into dirt-brown waterways around southern Alberta.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Patricia Neely said two bodies were recovered and third was in an area that made it too dangerous to recover.
Some of the 75,000 flood evacuees were holding out hope they might soon be allowed back into their homes yesterday.
However, Mayor Naheed Nen- shi said earlier the downtown area was still without power and remained off limit.
Nenshi also warned there could be another wave of danger ahead.
“There is a scenario in which upstream events at the dams further upstream from the city will lead to another surge in the Bow River,” he said.
Twenty-five neighborhoods in the city, with an estimated 75,000 residents, were evacuated due to floodwaters in Calgary, a city of more than 1 million people that hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and is the center of Canada’s oil industry.
About 1,500 have gone to emergency shelters, while the rest have found shelter with family or friends, Nenshi said.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Medicine Hat, downstream from Calgary, was under a mandatory evacuation order affecting 10,000 residents.
The premier warned that communities downstream of Calgary had not yet felt the full force of the floodwater.
A spokesman for Canada’s defense minister said 1,300 soldiers from a base in Edmonton were being deployed to the flood zone.
Police were asking residents who were forced to leave the nearby High River area to register at evacuation shelter.
The Town of High River remained under a mandatory evacuation order.
The flood was forcing emergency plans at the Calgary Zoo, which is situated on an island near where the Elbow and Bow rivers meet. Lions and tigers were being prepared for transfer, if necessary, to prisoner holding cells at the courthouse.
It had been a rainy week throughout much of Alberta, but on Thursday the Bow River Basin was battered with up to 100mm of rain.
Environment Canada’s forecast called for more rain in the area, but in much smaller amounts.
Calgary was not alone in its weather-related woes. Flashpoints of chaos spread from towns in the Rockies south to Lethbridge.