A major street in Irvine, Alta., is submerged by flood waters. ((James Thome))

Some people living in a southeastern Alberta hamlet had to be rescued by boats and helicopters Friday as a creek overflowed amid heavy rain.

About a dozen homes in Irvine had to be abandoned because of flooding. The hamlet is along the Trans-Canada Highway, which has been closed from Medicine Hat to the Saskatchewan border.

"There was water actually going through their windows, so there must be at least six feet of water," James Thome, who lives in the dry part of Irvine.

Red Cross staff are providing emergency shelter, food and water at a large shelter in the Medicine Hat Arena, said spokeswoman Leila Daoud.

Eastbound vehicles on Highway 1 were being turned back at the Highway 41 junction near Dunmore, said Alberta Transportation. Highway 41 south of Highway 1 to the U.S. border was also closed until at least Saturday.


Flood waters surround a home in Irvine, Alta.

Highway 1 from the Saskatchewan border east to Walsh, Alta., is completely underwater, said Kirsten Leatherdale, a Saskatchewan Highways spokeswoman.

More than 100 millimetres of rain has saturated southeastern Alberta since Wednesday and another 20 to 40 millimetres was forecast for the Medicine Hat, Bow Island and Suffield areas Friday.

"The highway is being run over at several locations and, in my 31 years here as county manager, I have never never seen anything like it," said Lutz Pershon, manager of Cypress County near the Saskatchewan border.

States of emergency

The counties of Lethbridge and Cardston as well as Coaldale, east of Lethbridge, all declared a state of emergency on Friday.

"The soak capacity of the ground now is at zero. Everything that falls now runs off because the ground is now completely saturated," said Leo Ludwig, Coaldale's chief administrative officer.


Water overflows onto a road south of Irvine, Alta. ((Courtesy Cypress County) )

The Canadian Red Cross is providing people with blankets and cots at a shelter on the Blood Tribe reserve, which declared a state of emergency on Thursday. It's the third time since April that flooding has damaged homes on the reserve.

Stay off Calgary rivers

A high-water warning was issued Friday for the Bow and Elbow rivers in Calgary. The fire department recommended people stay away from the waterways for recreational boating.

Runoff from melting snow in the Rocky Mountains, combined with the heavy rains, has more than doubled the rate of flow in the Elbow River since June 15, with the Bow expected to do the same, said the department.

Major flooding is not expected in Calgary but rising water levels will make the rivers murky, unpredictable and dangerous, officials added.

With files from the CBC's Andree Lau and The Canadian Press