Power outages in Calgary could last for months after floods

Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:43pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Power outages in the Canadian oil capital of Calgary could last for weeks or even months, city authorities said on Sunday, as record breaking flood waters moved downstream to threaten smaller communities in southeastern Alberta.

Even as officials told 65,000 Calgary residents they could start returning to their water-damaged homes, 10,000 people in were evacuated in Medicine Hat, where the South Saskatchewan River is expected to burst its banks.

CF Industries said it was temporarily halting production at its Medicine Hat facility, Canada's largest nitrogen fertilizer complex, as a precautionary measure in view of the flooding.

The floods have closed key transit arteries, including some rail lines and the east-west TransCanada Highway, and displaced more than 100,000 people.

The floods already look significantly worse than those of 2005, which caused C$400 million ($383 million) in damage.

Three people have been confirmed dead.

But officials say it is too early to put a figure on the damage in the Western Canadian province and in Calgary, its largest city, with a population of 1.1 million.

"It will certainly be at least the middle of the week before people will be going back to work. There are some pockets of downtown where normality will not return for weeks," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told a news conference.   Continued...

A pair of ducks swim on a flooded street in Calgary, Alberta June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark