Claresholm officials believe worst of flooding is over
Evacuation centre set up at the town's arena closing at 6 p.m.
- Storm water and sewage systems begin to catch up
Conditions in Claresholm have improved, city officials said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
Storm water systems and sewer systems are starting to catch up, the release said, and if current conditions continue, the town hopes to have the situation well in hand soon.
The town plans to close the reception centre located at the Claresholm Arena by 6:00 p.m. if the current situation continues, the release said, adding no residents are currently using the facility. The town's emergency operations centre continues to be operational.
However, the local state of emergency declared in Claresholm — part of the Municipal District of Willow Creek — remains in effect..
The town, which is home to more than 3,700 people, is located 132 kilometres south of Calgary.
- Alberta flooding: Voluntary evacuation issued in Claresholm
- LIVE BLOG | Alberta flooding 2014: Updates from the field
- Overland flooding not expected in Calgary, say officials
Town officials say the rain began falling on Monday evening and intensified overnight Tuesday.
By Wednesday morning, localized flooding prompted an Alberta Emergency Alert. According to the alert, the area affected by flooding is 43rd Avenue to 59th Avenue west from Third Street to Eighth Street west in Claresholm.
"Emergency personnel and town crews are working hard to handle emergency situations as they arise," the town said in a release. "Please stay off the streets. Please do not remove barricades."
Drinking water in Claresholm is safe to drink, but the town is asking residents to use discretion and limit water use to decrease the pressure being put on the sanitary sewer system.
James Smith has been pumping water out of his home since early this morning.
"Checked downstairs and the water is halfway through our stairs, and then a few minutes later it surpassed the furnace," he told CBC News. "Now, its submerged."
Smith was lucky he didn't have much stored down there. Kyra Nordquist wasn't so lucky.
"Our couch is almost under the water," she said.
Mayor Rob Steel said the city is "in operations mode right now: ensure public safety, offer services to people who need it, then we'll assess the ongoing damage and mitigation projects further as time goes on."
Steele says all residents can do now is pump out the water and hope for the best
Environment Canada says a rainfall warning is still in effect for the town, as well as several regions throughout southern Alberta.
No formal evacuation yet
So far only a voluntary evacuation order is in effect, but Steel says they are monitoring the situation and is hopeful the worst is over.
"At this point, we've provided an evacuation centre for people that need to get out of their homes right now, they need some services provided to them, which is at the Claresholm arena. It is not a formal evacuation order yet. The only formal evacuation order we've issued is for the [Centennial Park] campground."
Steel says any problems with sewage backup is not connected to the sewer system. He says so much rain has fallen in the last two days that systems just can't keep up.
Schools have been closed for the day but diploma exams are still going ahead, says Livingstone Range School Division.
Students who were scheduled to write their exam on Wednesday are being told not to go to their school, but to the Claresholm arena and they will be bused from there. All rural bus routes are also cancelled for the day.
Municipal employees, firefighters and local RCMP members have all been dispatched to the areas affected by flooding. For residents who haven't been forced out of their homes, town officials are urging them to stay home and off the streets.