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‘Cars floating, people trying to swim’: Witness on flash flooding in Grande Prairie

WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta government issued an emergency alert for the city of Grande Prairie Tuesday evening after torrential rainfall triggered flash flooding in parts of the city. Nancy Carlson and Margeaux Morin have the details.

The City of Grande Prairie’s manager of communications said Tuesday night’s flash flooding doesn’t appear to have caused significant damage.

David Olinger told Global News on Wednesday that other than some sand and gravel on major roads, there is little sign of the flooding event.

“Today, driving around, you wouldn’t notice anything,” he said.

He said the transit system temporarily shut down but resumed service Tuesday night. The aquatic facility’s basement flooded so it was temporarily closed but was later re-opened. Olinger said staff were checking on records stored in the flooded basement of city hall.

The Alberta government issued an emergency alert for Grande Prairie Tuesday night after a summer storm caused flooding in several areas.

In a tweet, the government said “first responders are attending all calls and assessing for eminent (sic) danger.”

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“The water levels were rising pretty quick everywhere around the city,” said Chris Haynes, who lives in the northwest Alberta city.

“Cars floating, people trying to swim.”

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According to Alberta Health Services, the local hospital was also dealing with flooding but said it remained operational and that patient care was not affected.

According to Haynes, some parts of the city were flooded worse than others by torrential rain in the early evening. He said the downtown appeared to have been hit the hardest.

Around the same time, the City of Grande Prairie tweeted out that it was temporarily suspending public transit as a result of the flooding and severe weather.

 

Flooding was reported in Grande Prairie, Alta. after a summer storm rolled through on Aug. 2, 2016.

Flooding was reported in Grande Prairie, Alta. after a summer storm rolled through on Aug. 2, 2016.

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Flooding was reported in Grande Prairie, Alta. after a summer storm rolled through on Aug. 2, 2016.
Flooding was reported in Grande Prairie, Alta. after a summer storm rolled through on Aug. 2, 2016. COURTESY: Chris Haynes

“We haven’t seen anything like this since I’ve been in Grande Prairie,” Haynes said.

At 10:19 p.m., the Alberta government ended its high water level emergency alert for the community.

Grande Prairie is not the only northern Alberta community to experience flooding over the past few days. Over the weekend, residents of Fort McMurray were hit hard by the effects of heavy rain as well.

Watch below: Fort McMurray is mopping up a massive mess. The fire-ravaged community that once desperately needed rain is now dealing with the aftermath of a flash flood. Reid Fiest reports. 

Fort McMurray, still recovering from wildfires, now hit by flash floods
Fort McMurray, still recovering from wildfires, now hit by flash floods

READ MORE: ‘It’s a lot to deal with’: Fort McMurray residents clean up after rainfall, flooding

Late Tuesday night, the City of Grande Prairie issued a news release to say its Emergency Operations Centre had been deactivated.

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According to city officials, the water from the storm was receding but residents were still being told to use caution around flooded areas and in areas near Bear Creek as well as storm ponds.

Citizens were also being asked to be careful around manhole covers and storm drains in the event they become dislodged. The city also asked that citizens report any missing manhole covers to officials.

For non-emergency calls, citizens were being asked to call the city’s after-hours phone line at 780-532-4519.

“We are assessing areas this morning,” Transportation Services manager Robert Carroll said on Wednesday. “There were a lot of flooded areas but we don’t have a lot of reports yet of permanent damage. The underground system can only handle so much water at a time.”

Crews set up barricades Tuesday night at several areas, including 102 Street and the Bypass, 100 Street and 97 Avenue and on Wapiti Road near Canfor.

Heavy rain caused flooding at city hall, City on 99th, the Coca-Cola Centre, the Community Social Development Building, and the Montrose Cultural Centre, the city confirmed on Wednesday.

It said all buildings were operating normally with cleanup occurring as necessary.