Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least three people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city’s hockey arena.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper toured the area and said officials don’t know yet if the flooding will get worse, but said the water has peaked and stabilized and noted that the weather has gotten better.
Overflowing rivers washed out roads and bridges, soaked homes and turned streets into dirt-brown waterways around southern Alberta. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Patricia Neely told reporters three were dead and two bodies were recovered. The two bodies recovered are the two men who had been seen floating lifeless in the Highwood River near High River on Thursday, she said.
Harper, a Calgary resident, called the level of flooding “stunning” and said he never imagined there would be a flood of this magnitude in this part of Canada.
“This is incredible. I’ve seen a little bit of flooding in Calgary before. I don’t think any of us have seen anything like this before. The magnitude is just extraordinary,” Harper said.
“We’re all very concerned that if gets much more than this it could have real impact on infrastructure and other services longer term, so we’re hoping things will subside a bit.”
Harper said nobody thought three days ago there would be flooding.
“Before we declare it over let’s wait and see what happens,” Harper said.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the water levels have reached a peak, but have not declined.
“We’ve sat at the same level for many, many hours now,” Nenshi said. “There is one scenario that would it go even higher than this, so you’ll either see the Bow river continue at this level for many hours or you will see it grow even higher and we’re prepared for that eventuality.”
A spokesman for Canada’s defense minister said 1,300 soldiers from a base in Edmonton were being deployed to the flood zone.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Medicine Hat, north of Calgary, is under a mandatory evacuation affecting 10,000 residents.
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