Right now a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief, the sun is shining and it has stopped raining, at least for now. It is expected to start up again later tonight, but at a reduced shower amount. Two days ago it started to rain, and so far my rain gauge shows that in the last 48 hours we got 3 1/4 inches of rain in our area. We live on the edge of Springbank Hill, placing us well above the rivers. That saved us from the flooding experienced by a number of communities around southern Alberta, like High River, Canmore, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat. Calgary in the low lying areas was nailed for he first time in memory with a flood in the downtown area.
This flood was devastating to a city of over a million people. No traffic was permitted downtown, and in fact some 75,000 to 100,000 people were evacuated from the flood zones, in the city.
The rain was caused by a wide low pressure area centered over central Alberta, that forced warm moist air up and into the mountains to our west. And it rained, a lot. Areas getting rain to the west got 2 to 3 times the rain I got. It rained into areas where the rivers that flow into Calgary collect water, and they swelled and flowed into Calgary. It is not over yet, since some showers and rain are still expected tonight, in Calgary and to the west. Our two rivers, the Bow and the Elbow, were simply torrents and the stream beds were not able to contain the flow or the volume of water.
The flooding in Calgary started last night. By this morning, the news was bad, and was carried on all the local TV channels. They did an excellent job of reporting the disaster as it unfolded. Canmore a bedroom community just east of Banff National Park was hit badly when their river overflowed the banks and caused massive destruction. The Sheep river in the town of High River just south of Calgary, flooded enough to cause the town to be evacuated. Nobody has ever seen a flood like this one, in High River. The Trans Canada Highway was washed out east of Canmore, traffic to the west was closed.
I have been critical of our mayor Naheed Nenshi, and our Alberta Premier Allison Redford, on occasion in the past, but today I would have been proud to stand with either of them. The city and the province has had an emergency plan in place for some time, learning from floods and fires in the past. Yesterday as it became apparent we were in trouble, the plan was put in place and the response was swift.
Police were out keeping people out of unsafe areas, and warning people to go elsewhere for shelter during the flood. Firefighters were out rescuing people from their flooded homes. They were in rescue boats, and their trucks. Hundreds of citizens were out filling and laying down sandbags to keep the flood waters back. Helicopters were out rescuing people, and looking for survivors in trouble, They also broadcast warnings to evacuate to higher ground. Hospitals were kept open in the event of a medical disaster. TV and Radio stations broadcast warnings and alerts. Evacuation centres were set up to handle people that had been evacuated. Most were city owned buildings that had showers and heat and plumbing. Cots were ready if and when they were needed. The Army was brought in, so that their heavy equipment could be used to help with the rescue. 1500 army troops were on the scene in various towns but mostly in High River where the need seemed greatest. During the morning today, our mayor and our premier all looking tired from being up most of the night, were on TV assuring Calgary that it was indeed a disaster, but they explained what was being done and what residents could expect in the way of help. Frankly, I have never seen such intergovernmental cooperation mobilized so quickly. From fire, to police, and the utility companies, gas and electric, to the average citizen going about to help others I was proud of our governments for once. The resources were there and they were al put to use. No discussion I could see, just get the job done!
There is water everywhere that is not high ground. Stampede park is flooded, and the Saddledome is flooded to the 10th row of seats inside. Stampede will start 2 weeks from today, and I bet it will go off without a hitch!
Throughout this whole time it was evident that some forward planning was in place and it was activated seamlessly. Obviously the bureaucrats were out of the equation! I say again Bravo and hats off to our Premier, Allison Redford, and to Mayor Naheed Nenshi and all the other leaders who made this disaster, a smaller one than it could have been.
I have a video in case you would like to see it. FLOODING