June 18, 2014 12:42 am
Updated: June 18, 2014 3:28 am

Medicine Hat declares state of emergency amid flood fears

The city of Medicine Hat prepares for flooding with the South Saskatchewan River expected to peak on Friday.

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As southwestern Alberta braces for flooding and evacuations, the city of Medicine Hat has declared a state of emergency to prepare for what could be another near-record flood.

The local state of emergency took effect Tuesday evening with Mayor Ted Clugston saying the decision was made with “a heavy heart.”

The city has opened its emergency operations centre and has begun sandbagging and building “muscle walls” in low-lying communities.

The city also posted a map highlighting potential evacuation areas and has begun setting up an evacuation centre.

“If you live in one of these areas, please be aware that you may be required to evacuate your home in the next 48 hours, possibly on short notice,” warned the notification.

City councillors turned to Twitter Tuesday evening to reassure residents the city is doing everything it can to protect Medicine Hat from flooding.

Alberta Environment’s Evan Friesehan said Tuesday the South Saskatchewan River could rise to 2013 flood levels by Friday but said a lot can change over the next three days.

He stressed that prediction is a worst-case scenario and will only happen if the Oldman and Bow rivers to the west peak at the same time where they meet the South Saskatchewan River.

Last June’s floods, which devastated much of southern Alberta, forced the evacuation of 10,000 people in Medicine Hat and flooded hundreds of homes.

Earlier Tuesday, a state of emergency was declared in the County of Lethbridge, where the Oldman River is expected to peak at dangerously high levels.

The county says people in the Oldman River valley should prepare for an evacuation order sometime on Wednesday, depending on river levels.

States of emergency were also declared Tuesday in the Municipal District of Willow Creek and Crowsnest Pass.

- with files from The Canadian Press

 

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