Siksika Nation in 'crisis stage' as flooding threatens several southern Alberta communities

"This is the worst I've ever seen in my life on the nation," says Chief Joseph Weasel Child as a half-dozen communities including the Siksika First Nation struggle with high volumes of melting snow, which is threatening homes and blocking emergency vehicles and school buses from using roads.

As many as 25 homes on the Siksika reserve had been evacuated as of Tuesday morning

The Siksika Nation has 7,600 members and is the second largest reserve in Canada. More than half of its 560 kilometres of roads are affected by flooding. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Localized flooding has pushed several Alberta communities into a "crisis stage," with overland water threatening several homes and rendering some roads impassable to emergency vehicles and school buses.

Siksika Nation, Lethbridge County, the Municipal District of Taber and Forty Mile County are all in local states of emergency, with dozens of evacuations and road closures in place. 

More than two dozen roads have been closed in the County of Forty Mile. The county has run out of barricades and is now using delineator posts, pylons and flags to redirect people. (County of Forty Mile)

As many as 25 homes on the Siksika reserve had been evacuated as of Tuesday morning, Siksika First Nation Chief Joseph Weasel Child told a news conference at  9 a.m.

"This is the worst I've ever seen in my life on the nation," he said. "We're at the crisis stage now."

Roughly 300 of the 560 kilometres of roads on the reserve have been affected by the flooding, Weasel Child said.

State of emergency lifted in Lethbridge County

The state of local emergency was lifted in Lethbridge County on Tuesday afternoon.

In a 4 p.m. update, officials said there had been no new road closures since 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, and floodwaters had receded in most areas of concern.

"Some roads remain closed and motorists are advised to use caution on roads that have been softened or are covered with water. A map of current road closures will be posted on our website and will be updated daily," read the update.

Information for area residents affected by flooding can be found on the Alberta Health Services website

Several homes were being threatened by high water, though no one has had to be evacuated yet, Reeve Lorne Hickey said Tuesday morning. 

Hickey said he's never seen this much flooding this time of year in his community, noting that more than two dozen roads have been closed.

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The M.D. of Taber has been battling flooding for weeks now, as runoff from melting snow continues to overwhelm local infrastructure, and the ground remains frozen in many areas, preventing water from being absorbed.

Willow Creek and Vulcan are also experiencing localized flooding. 

Nels Petersen, chief administrative officer of Vulcan County, says crews are doing trench and swale work to divert water away from roadways.

"But I mean really we're anticipating the big test is gonna start tomorrow, you know when temperatures start climbing up over 8 degrees," he said.

Officials are warning that all of these situations can change rapidly, and urge residents to continue to check the Alberta Emergency Alert system for updates.

These are the flood-affected communities in southern Alberta, with Calgary marked as a reference point. (CBC)

With files from Jennifer Lee and Dave Will