Flooding to close core of Canada's oil capital for days

Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:04pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Some residents began returning to damaged homes on Saturday after record-breaking floods in southern Alberta that killed at least three people, displaced more than 100,000 and will leave the core of Canada's oil capital, Calgary, without power for days.

Communities to the south and east of Calgary were on high alert as flood waters washed across the region. And even as Calgary lifted some evacuation orders, officials warned people not to become complacent.

"We have a situation across southern and particularly south-west Alberta of intense saturation, which means 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) of rain that would typically be absorbed could cause massive flooding and run-off," Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths told a news conference.

"Please do not assume because the clouds have cleared and the streets are not flooded with water it is perfectly safe to move back into your community."

The floods followed 36 hours of unusually heavy rainfall which pushed the volume of water in local rivers to record levels. Some communities received six months of their normal rainfall in under two days.

Evacuations started on Thursday, and utility Enmax switched off power to central Calgary on Friday afternoon to avoid water damage to its downtown facilities. The area was still without power and closed to vehicles on Saturday.

A few tourists and residents strolled in the carless streets of the city's core, but the area was eerily quiet.

Officials said it was too early to say how much it would cost to repair flooded homes and rebuild roads and bridges washed away by the murky brown floodwater.   Continued...

An abandoned car sit submerged on a flooded street in the Mission area of Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. REUTERS/Melissa Renwick