State of emergency again for High River, Alberta

Alberta Environment issues third flood watch with another 50 mm of rain set to come down in southern areas.

For the third time this month, southern Alberta is on a flood watch, with the forecast calling for another 50 millimetres of rain in some areas Tuesday.

A local state of emergency has been declared in High River. Heavy rain is again threatening to push the Highwood River over its banks as another 40 millimetres of rain is expected over the next 36 hours.

The town has issued a voluntary evacuation notice for two neighbourhoods – Wallaceville and the Willows. It's the third time in a month run-off has turned the town's river into a dangerous torrent.

"Over the last 24 hours the river flow has approximately doubled," said Scott Kovatch, the spokesperson for the town.

"We went from approximately 80 cubic metres per second to approximately 150 cubic metres per second. It is scary."

Meanwhile, officials in Okotoks say the water is starting to creep over the banks again, and it has reopened its emergency operations centre.

Alberta Environment has issued a flood watch for several regions, including the High River area, because of high river levels and saturated ground.

The list includes:

  • The Sheep River, including Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Okotoks.
  • The Elbow River, including Bragg Creek.
  • Fish Creek, including Calgary and Priddis.
  • Willow Creek, including Claresholm.

Environment Canada says a record amount of rain has already fallen in Calgary this month – the record of 224 millimetres set in 1902 was broken Monday night after 14 millimetres of rain fell.

The forecast is calling for another 20 millimetres to 50 millimetres to fall during the day, tapering off in late afternoon or evening.

The province has already dealt with two rounds of flooding over the past few weeks, with heavy rains forcing rivers over their banks.

High River was the worst hit in the first flood, with the town's river coming within centimetres of the bottom of the bridge through town and hundreds of homes evacuated. People returned to flooded basements and sewer backup.

But many homes have also been damaged by the sheer volume of water that has soaked into the ground.

Shannon McClellan, who lives in Turner Valley, has had a stream of water flowing into her basement since June 8.

She says the weeping tile along her foundation can't channel water away from her home because the ground is so saturated the basement is its only option.

Winnipeg warned of basement flooding

Other parts of the Prairies are also bracing for more rain.

The City of Winnipeg is warning homeowners the threat of basement flooding is not going away. River levels are expected to remain high for another month.

Rivers are 2½ metres above the normal summer level.

The city recommends homeowners install a sump pit drainage system and backwater valve, and make sure they're working properly.

Farmers in southern Manitoba fear they could lose their crops.

Victor Bueckert, a farmer in Rossendale, southwest of Portage la Prairie, said his crops were looking good before the storm, but as of noon on Monday, 250 millimetres of rain had fallen on his land.

"We got pretty well everything seeded, and a lot of it was really wet, muddy conditions, but we did get it seeded," he said. "We were pretty lucky with a lot of long hours getting it done. Now you start wondering if it's all for none, or how it's going to turn out."

Many farmers in the area say their crops can recover from the heavy rain if there is some dry weather this week.