Uprooted trees slam into a bridge in High River, Alta.

About 500 residents of flood-soaked southern Alberta have been allowed to return to their homes after a break in the rainy weather, officials reported. Swollen rivers and creeks have crested and the floodwaters have begun to recede.

Environment Canada says dry, sunny weather is on its way for this weekend, but the flood watches and warnings are still in effect for a number of communities.

In the worst hit area, about 650 people were evacuated from their homes in High River south of Calgary on Tuesday when a river burst its banks.

* Coverage from CBC Calgary

On Wednesday afternoon about 120 homes were deemed safe enough to allow people to return. Leonard Zebedee, the director of emergency management for the town of High River, said things had started to improve.


Backyard lake in High River, Alta.

"We're starting to look better," he said. "There's light at the end of the tunnel."

In one near tragedy, a man of about 60 was rescued from a from a swollen creek in High River after he fell off his bicycle.

Residents of Okotoks, Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod are also dealing with flood damage after as much as 170 millimetres of rain in the past few days.

Premier Ralph Klein and several provincial cabinet ministers toured some of the affected areas Wednesday afternoon.

Klein said the government will compensate people for all legitimate losses caused by the flooding and there will be help for municipalities as well.

"All of those things will have to be assessed and we're able to compensate them," Klein said.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba also affected

Over the provincial border, in southern Saskatchewan, flooding is not expected other than in low-lying areas, said Doug Johnson of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. Earlier forecasts predicted that it could be the worst in a decade.

Wet weather has also been playing havoc in Manitoba, where a flash flood watch was issued Tuesday for western parts of the province. The watch covers an area stretching from the U.S. border to Swan River, running as far east as Brandon and Dauphin.