Canada's oil capital to be shut for days after flooding

Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:38pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, June 22 (Reuters) - Southern Alberta braced for more disruption on Saturday from floods that have killed at least two people, forced about 100,000 people from their homes and blacked out the center of Canada's oil capital, Calgary.

Communities to the south and east of Calgary were put on high alert as the flood waters moved across the region. But with rainfall easing up, authorities were hopeful that the worst might now be over.

"It's morning in Calgary! Sunny, water levels are down, and our spirit remains strong," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Twitter. "We're not out of this, but maybe have turned (the) corner."

The floods followed some 36 hours of unusually heavy rainfall - some communities received six months of their normal rainfall in less than two days.

Evacuations started on Thursday, both in Calgary and in smaller cities across the south of the province. Utility Enmax switched off power to central Calgary late on Friday afternoon lest water damage its downtown facilities.

Calgary was unable to say how much it would cost to repair flooded homes and rebuild roads and bridges washed away by the murky brown floodwater.

But the floods are already shaping up to be significantly worse than those of 2005, which caused C$400 million in damage after three big storms struck in a single week.

The bulk of the evacuations were in Calgary, a city of 1.1 million that is home to Canada's biggest energy companies, with up to 100,000 people ordered to leave their homes. The city urged drivers to stay off the roads, and warned people not to get too close to the raging rivers.   Continued...