Medicine Hat prepared for flooding, says mayor

The mayor of Medicine Hat says the city is better prepared this year for any flooding, although officials are saying it won't be nearly as bad as originally projected.

South Saskatchewan River could peak in city on Friday

Ted Clugston talks to CBC about the return of rising water levels in his community nearly a year after floodwaters hit last June 4:07

The mayor of Medicine Hat says the city is better prepared this year for any flooding, but officials are saying it won't be nearly as bad as originally projected.

Alberta Environment said earlier that preliminary river flow rates for the South Saskatchewan River could reach 5,300 cubic metres per second in Medicine Hat by Friday. That is about the same rate as the city experienced in 2013.

New projections from Alberta Environment estimate a significantly decreased peak river flow projection of 2,400 metres per cubic second. The peak river flow is expected to occur on Saturday morning.

​"We're dealing with a lot of disbelief that how could this possibly happen again almost exactly a year later," said Clugston. "Most of us believed that we would get through this year without it, but now it appears to be upon us again."

Alberta Environment has subsequently advised that precipitation in southwestern Alberta was less than expected over night. A significant amount of that precipitation fell as snow, which will have less impact on river flow rates.

Medicine Hat officials say they will err on the side of caution and continue with their flood preparation.

Evacuations not anticipated

The city declared a state of local emergency Tuesday night and has set up its Emergency Operations Centre.

City crews have been building muscle walls and installing sandbags in low-lying areas.

A flood wall is being installed to ward off rising waters in Medicine Hat. (Neil Herland/CBC)

The city says it undertook extensive mapping after last year's flood to identify the best places to install flood mitigation measures.

Clugston says no one has been asked to leave their home yet, but the city has identified potential evacuation areas. 

"It is anticipated there will be no need for evacuation," said the city in a release. 

"Residents continue to be asked to stay away from rivers and creeks for their own safety. They are also asked to give City crews the space they need to continue their efforts to put mitigation measures in place."

This would be the city's fourth flood in five years.

"Frankly, we're getting good at this," said Clugston.

Residents can get more information on the city's website.

The City of Medicine Hat has identified possible evacuation zones if the South Saskatchewan river floods. (City of Medicine Hat)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.