Floods shut down Canada's oil capital, four may be dead

Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:37pm EDT
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By Nia Williams and Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The heaviest floods in decades shut down the Canadian oil capital of Calgary on Friday, with an evacuation of the downtown core and tens of thousands of residents forced to leave their homes.

Police said four people may have died in the town of High River, located about 60 km (37 miles) south of Calgary, including a woman who was swept away with her camper and a man seen falling from a canoe in the swollen Highwood River.

Some 1,200 troops were helping with the evacuations.

"This is a tragic situation," Alberta Premier Alison Redford said at a press conference. "I think in the circumstances the response has been incredibly effective but that doesn't mean that people aren't impacted. This is a natural disaster."

Around 100,000 people of Calgary's 1.1 million residents, were ordered to leave their homes, while smaller communities were evacuated elsewhere in the Western Canadian province.

By mid-afternoon, rivers had flooded roads and bridges, forcing many residents to flee by boat or helicopter.

Calgary officials said the downtown site of the Calgary Stampede rodeo was flooded, and water in the nearby Saddledome hockey arena was reportedly up to the fourteenth row of seats.

More than 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of rain has fallen in some parts of southern Alberta in just two days, and forecasters say the rain won't let up until Saturday.   Continued...

A truck sits abandoned and submerged on Memorial Drive after the Bow River flooded in Calgary, Alberta June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Todd Korol