Avoid waterways, Calgary mayor pleads ahead of long weekend

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is pleading with people to be wary of the fast-moving Bow River ahead of the long weekend, warning that the water remains dangerous.

Stay away from waterways and banks, says Nenshi

Long flood recovery ahead

8 years ago
Emergency officials say 10,000 Calgarians will be out of their homes for a significant period of time 2:51

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is pleading with people to be wary of the fast-moving Bow River ahead of the long weekend.

Speaking at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Friday, the mayor warned Calgary residents to stay away from waterways and paths as the city heads into the Canada Day weekend.

"Don't be a Nenshi noun," he said, referring to a social media hashtag that went viral after he struggled to find appropriate words to describe people caught canoeing on the Bow River during the flood.

Although flow rates at the Glenmore Dam are roughly 10 per cent of what they were at the peak of flooding last week, the Bow River is still dangerously fast, Nenshi said.

Canada Day fireworks will still launch from Centre Street Bridge on Monday, but people should not gather on riverbanks to watch.

The mayor said the expensive investments made in the city's water treatment facilities prevented boil-water orders.

"If this had happened in 2005, we would have had boil-water orders every day," Nenshi said.

Outdoor water restrictions remain

With the Canada Day weekend set to be a scorcher, Calgary residents will be allowed to use watering cans to hydrate their plants and lawns, but officials are asking that people continue not using hoses or sprinklers.

The city will also be moving evacuees out of existing centres to William Aberhart High School, Central Memorial High School and the University of Calgary.

Calgary’s power grid is expected to all be online, as of Saturday morning.

"I am guardedly optimistic that by this time tomorrow morning we can report that the entire Enmax system has been restored," said the Calgary energy company's CEO, Gianna Manes.

However, some individual homes and business will still not have power, warned Manes.

As many as 12,000 residents are still out of their homes, and Friday the director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency warned that it could stay that way "for a long time."

Bruce Burrell made the prediction Friday morning at a press briefing where he also noted that while floodwaters have receded greatly, the Elbow and Bow rivers are still at the levels they reached during the flood of 2005.

Calgary remains in a state of emergency for at least another week as officials continue to try to restore services to affected areas and get residents safely back into their homes.

"We’re only in preliminary stages of building assessment. There are some homes that we have already had engineers go out and look at because they’re the ones that are more precarious," he said.

It is expected to take five to seven days for officials to estimate how many houses will be condemned because of flood damage, the mayor said Friday.

"We are starting to put some black dots on the map. Black means the home cannot be restored or recovered."

Hundreds of specialists, including some brought in from Vancouver and Edmonton, are conducting the assessments.

The provincial government also announced changes to the Disaster Recovery Program on Saturday that they say will help flood victims access recovery money more quickly.

Those who want to apply for disaster assistance will not need to wait for their municipality to do so on their behalf or for property inspections to take place before payment is made. Those requirements will be addressed at a later date.

"We have made changes to the Disaster Recovery Program because of these extraordinary circumstances," said Ric McIver, Alberta's transportation minister and MLA for Calgary Hays. "We are starting with communities where safe re-entry and rebuilding has begun so they have the money they need to start their recovery."

At the peak of last week's flooding, the confluence of the Elbow and Bow rivers had a flow rate of 2,750 cubic metres per second, Burrell said. Normally in June the flow of the Bow River would not even reach 300 cubic metres per second, according to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources Development.

Officials announced Friday that private businesses can now request help from city crews to pump out flood water.

Crews are already providing the service for homeowners.

Before and after satellite images of Calgary show the effects of recent flooding. (Google/NASA)