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Calgary emergency management committee hears rain situation looking better

Click to play video: 'Many Calgarians breathe sighs of relief with improving forecast' Many Calgarians breathe sighs of relief with improving forecast
WATCH: Many Calgarians are breathing sighs of relief as emergency officials report the flood threat has subsided. As Lauren Pullen tells us, people living in communities hit hard in 2013 were preparing for the worst and some had to jump into action – Jun 14, 2022

Calgary emergency officials and city councillors met early Tuesday morning for an update on the heavy rainfall and potential flooding.

Overnight, total rain levels reached 26 millimetres near the Calgary International Airport, 40 mm at Canada Olympic Park, 47 mm in Springbank and 52 mm in Priddis. Meanwhile, a Kananaskis Country volunteer rain station reported rain levels at 112 mm.

Outside of the Stampede city, Claresholm had 47 mm of rain, Pincher Creek had 49 mm, and Crowsnest Pass had about 64 mm.

A berm being put up on Memorial Drive on June 14, 2022. Global News

On Monday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek declared a state of local emergency out of precaution. Doing so gives local emergency services the ability to go door to door to inform people they could be evacuated and access properties if necessary.

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Read more: ‘A whole lot more’: Calgary braces for second day of heavy rainfall

On Tuesday morning, Calgary’s Emergency Management Committee heard the situation is looking more positive than previous forecasts but that the city is “not out of the woods” just yet.

Water pumps set up at a home in Bowness, a neighbourhood in Calgary that is bordered by the Bow River to the north and east, June 14, 2022. Global News

According to Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Sue Henry, the city is not expecting any overland flooding from the Elbow River and doesn’t believe there will be any overland flooding from the Bow River, but that will depend on an updated forecast.

The Elbow River is expected to peak on Wednesday morning while the Bow River is expected to peak Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Henry said. “It really depends on where that water falls, and that’s very hard to predict.”

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Click to play video: 'Calgary declares precautionary state of local emergency amid possible flooding concerns' Calgary declares precautionary state of local emergency amid possible flooding concerns
Calgary declares precautionary state of local emergency amid possible flooding concerns – Jun 13, 2022

Tuesday afternoon during a flood briefing at the city’s emergency operations centre, officials said unless something changes it’s unlikely river levels will rise to the point of needing evacuations.

“Based on the revised forecast, we do not have any evacuation orders in place and we do not believe that we will need to issue any evacuation orders in the coming days,” Henry said.

Click to play video: 'Heavy rain across southern Alberta prompts flood worries, flashbacks to 2013 disaster' Heavy rain across southern Alberta prompts flood worries, flashbacks to 2013 disaster
Heavy rain across southern Alberta prompts flood worries, flashbacks to 2013 disaster – Jun 14, 2022

Some popular parks were closed Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the expected river crests. Bowness Park, St. Patrick’s Island and Princess Island Park were proactively closed at 4 p.m., part of the ongoing trail and path closures the city lists online.

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The Calgary Fire Department said so far they have not had to rescue anyone from the Bow or Elbow rivers.

Click to play video: 'Calgary businesses take steps to protect buildings from possible flooding' Calgary businesses take steps to protect buildings from possible flooding
Calgary businesses take steps to protect buildings from possible flooding – Jun 14, 2022

Gondek said the city is monitoring the weather very carefully and wasn’t ready to lift the state of local emergency yet.

“It’s incredibly significant that things can change on a dime and for that reason, we are not going to lift the order just yet,” she said. “We are going to keep it in place to make sure that any protective measures that need to be taken can be done so quickly.”

Read more: Thousands in Calgary hit by power outages during rain, wind storm

City officials told committee that precipitation falling as snow rather than rain in the higher elevations in the mountains has helped create a better situation than originally anticipated, but officials stressed the rain continues to fall.

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“The forecast is very encouraging, but we want to make sure that through an abundance of caution, that we continue on the track that we’re on,” Francois Bouchart, with City of Calgary Water Services, told committee.

However, there remains concern about some of the city’s lower lying communities like Sunnyside and Bowness.

Click to play video: '2013 flood has Canmore better prepared as water levels rise' 2013 flood has Canmore better prepared as water levels rise
2013 flood has Canmore better prepared as water levels rise – Jun 13, 2022

Calgary police deputy chief Chad Tawfik told committee that residents in those areas can expect officers and search and rescue crews going door-to-door to warn of a potential evacuation, if needed.

Committee heard that residents would be given 26 hours to evacuate their homes before high water levels are expected. A decision on any evacuations are expected Tuesday afternoon.

“There is a lot of nervousness from many Calgarians and that 2013 wasn’t that long ago for many of us,” Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said.

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“We need to stay calm, we need to pay attention to the advisories that are coming, we need to support our neighbours and we need to be ready to move, if needed.”

Read more: Calgary declares state of emergency ahead of heavy rainfall

Henry said two homes in Sunnyside were evacuated on Monday night due to instability on the hillside and water runoff from the escarpment at McHugh Bluff.

Memorial Drive remains closed as crews work to build a berm across the roadway to prevent river water from flowing back westward towards Sunnyside.

Francois Bouchard, manager of the city’s water department, said the berm construction was expected to finish by end of day Tuesday and will remain in place until after the peak of the Bow River’s flow passes.

According to city officials, a weather system expected to hit Calgary on June 20 will be a factor in determining how long the berm will stay in place on Memorial Drive.

City officials told committee that pumps are being set up in Sunnyside and Bowness in case water levels rise.

Click to play video: 'Environment minister says Government of Alberta ready to step in to any potential flooding situation' Environment minister says Government of Alberta ready to step in to any potential flooding situation
Environment minister says Government of Alberta ready to step in to any potential flooding situation – Jun 13, 2022

Reports of pooled water, downed trees and other matters stressed the city’s 311 service, driving up wait times, the mayor said. She urged Calgarians to use the city’s 311 app for faster reporting.

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Gondek also urged any Calgarians experiencing a recurrence of traumatic memories of the 2013 flood to call or text 211 for counselling support.

Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon said the province is focused on getting information and forecast models out to municipalities as quickly as possible. He also encouraged Albertans to keep on top of flood warnings and advisories using the Alberta Rivers app and website.

 

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