Alberta flooding continues after heavy rainfall

Heavy rain on Wednesday night caused flooding in some areas of southern Alberta to worsen.

States of local emergency remain in place for several communities

Southern Alberta floods

8 years ago
Duration 1:18
Rising water levels lead to states of local emergency in several communities

Heavy rain on Wednesday night caused flooding in some areas of southern Alberta to worsen.

The areas getting hit hardest by rising floodwaters include Fort Macleod, Claresholm, Magrath, the Blood Reserve and rural areas in Lethbridge County.

"The situation continues to evolve as weather conditions change and peak flows move downstream," said the province in a release. "Albertans are advised to keep up to date with the latest advisories and information from their municipalities."

A flood watch has also been issued for Threepoint Creek and Sheep River at Black Diamond. A flood warning remains in place for the South Saskatchewan, Waterton River — including Waterton Lake, Belly River and Willow Creek.

As of 6 p.m. MT, Environment Canada had lifted its last rainfall warnings for the communities of Okotoks, High River, Claresholm, Fort Macleod, Cardston and Magrath. 

11 states of local emergency

The fear of widespread flooding in southern Alberta is easing, but several communities remain vigilant in protecting against the rising waters in their communities. 

There are now 11 communities were under a state of local emergency:

The Town of Magrath became the latest municipality to declare an emergency.

"The town’s drinking water is fine, however, the public is requested to minimize sanitary sewer usage," said an Alberta Emergency Alert. 

Macleod byelection affected by flooding

Fort Macleod, located 172 kilometres south of Calgary, declared an emergency in the area late Wednesday night when the Oldman River spilled its banks and the water rushed several hundred metres inland.

Highway 811 near Fort Macleod, Alta., is closed after the Oldman River spilled its banks on Wednesday. (Alana Baker/CBC)

About 24 homes have been affected and people are voluntarily leaving, and Highway 811 in the area remains closed. The town is asking residents to conserve water because the treatment plant is having trouble keeping up.

More flooding happened overnight in Claresholm after rainfall caused storm drainage levels to rise to the same levels as Wednesday. All residents affected by flooding are being asked to call the town at 403-625-3384.

The flooding in southern Alberta is having an impact on the federal byelection for the riding of Macleod.

Advance polling stations in Claresholm, which were to open tomorrow, will be relocated to the Stavely arena.

The close to 4,500 voters affected have been notified by letter. The actual vote is on June 30.

Concerns remain for Blood Reserve

On the Blood Reserve, otherwise known as Kainai Nation, about 100 homes have been evacuated.

The biggest concern is the Belly River, which is the only river that does not have a dam upriver, so it cannot be controlled. It spilled its banks in many parts of the reserve.

More flooding happened overnight in Claresholm after rainfall caused storm drainage levels to rise to the same levels as Wednesday. (CBC)

Flood forecasters with Alberta Environment say the river has still not crested and will likely rise another half a metre, but the rivers on both the reserve and near Fort Macleod are expected to peak later today.

In Medicine Hat, city officials say the river is expected to crest on Saturday, but the river flow is likely to be significantly lower than previously thought.

It is unlikely there will be a need to evacuate any parts of the city.

Flow rate projections are also down for the Oldman River, which is expected to peak in Lethbridge on Friday.

Overland flooding plagues Lethbridge County

But residents in Lethbridge County are already experiencing heavy flooding.

"We urge citizens to not pump their fields, or cut roads or ditches, as there is currently no capacity downstream," said county officials in a release. "Citizens who want to cut a road to save a home or building must clear it with the county as roads need to be barricaded for safety reasons."

This aerial picture shows the flooding in Lethbridge County on Wednesday. Officials are now saying the situation has worsened overnight after more rainfall. (Lethbridge County)

Oldman River valley residents remain under evacuation alert as the river has not hit peak levels.

Any citizens experiencing flooding or water damage should call the county at 403-328-5525, and they are being urged to take photos for insurance purposes.

Alberta Heath Services is reminding residents that floodwaters may contain raw sewage and chemical contaminants. Officials suggest using protective equipment while cleaning up the mess left by flooding, and then showering with soap and warm water.

There are currently no boil-water advisories in affect, but health officials say residents in rural areas using well water should take extra precautions.

Highwood River to peak Thursday night

The Town of High River has just activated its Emergency Operations Centre due to conditions created by the heavy rainfall.

Forecasters now expect the Highwood River to peak around midnight at 240 cubic metres per second.

Some Calgary homeowners are installing tiger dams to protect their homes from the possibility of flooding. (Neil Herland/CBC)

Town officials say the rising water could have the biggest impact on the neighbourhood of Wallaceville, which is slated to be torn down after last year's flood, but there is no concern for flooding in other areas of the town.

The community also announced its Guy Weadick Days will be postponed until July 17-20, because of the wet weather and soggy ground conditions. It is the second consecutive year the event has been postponed.

Calgary officials are also still monitoring river levels in the city. 

Forecasters are not expecting any major flooding, but some residents aren't taking chances and have started packing up their cars and building water fences around their property.