Rain floods Edmonton roads, basements

More heavy rain in the Edmonton region slowed the downtown commute and had some homeowners mopping up basements Monday morning.
Rain forced the city to close lanes on 98th Avenue at 91st Street as flooding slowed the morning commute Monday for thousands of Edmonton motorists. (CBC)

More heavy rain in the Edmonton region slowed the downtown commute and had some homeowners mopping up basements Monday morning. 

The rain flooded the entrance to the Low Level Bridge southbound and closed lanes at 98th Avenue as it drops into the river valley.

The rain was just too much for many homeowners who awoke to flooded basements. 

Cody Vermeulen discovered flooding in his garage early this morning. (CBC)
"I woke up. 4:30. I heard rain, big splashes. I went to take a look outside, " said Cody Vermeulen, who lives near 98th Avenue and 92nd Street.   

He found a massive puddle had formed on the road and the water had forced the cover off one of the manholes. After helping push some cars, he realized he should check the garage of his condo.

"Went downstairs and everything was flooded," he said.

Up to 90 millimetres of rain fell on parts of Edmonton since Friday, equal to the monthly average for all of June. Another five to 10 millimetres of rain was forecasted for the city Monday.

River has crested

The volume of rain and the debris it swept along clogged some catch basins, leading to isolated flooding. Some soccer pitches are now lakes and all sports fields will remain closed through Tuesday unless the day is very warm.

All sports fields remain closed Monday due to heavy rain. (CBC)
City officials admit the amount of water caught them off-guard.

"It's not an issue about the level of the river," said the city's director of drainage services Leo Girard. "This is an issue about the significant amount of rain we experienced since Saturday."

The precipitation raised water levels in the North Saskatchewan River by three metres since Friday, though Alberta Environment isn't predicting any major flooding.  Girard said the province has told him the river has likely crested.

Rising water levels also closed a number of river valley trails along Emily Murphy Park to Kinsmen Park, the lower Highlands trail and in Goldbar Park.

"It's not safe to be going through there," said city park ranger Darren Grove. "One wrong move and a slip, you're going to be in the river floating downstream at a high rate of speed."

Dragon boats washed away

The fast moving water is hampering training for this year's dragon boat festival, however.

The torrent swept six practice boats from Rafters' Landing just south of downtown early Saturday.

Emergency crews rescue one of six dragon boats washed away from Rafters' Landing by rising river levels Saturday. (CBC)
"We had plans of pulling the boats because of the high water alert Saturday morning," said festival president Blaine Selingerbut. "Unfortunately the boats must have just let go because I received a call from somebody down river that they had seen one of the dock sections float by."

Firefighters rescued many of the boats, securing them on shore for club members to retrieve over the next couple of days.

The heavy river flow isn't expected to affect the festival, which runs August 19 to 21.

Heavy rain misses fires

Unfortunately the rain is not falling as hard where the province needs it most — on the fires in the Fort McMurray area.

"The fact that this fire is so large, which means that in order for the entire fire to get rain it needs quite a large system to move over it," said fire information officer Rob Harris. "We just haven't seen that yet."

The area is also expecting another five to 10 millimetres of rain Monday.

Two of 27 fires burning in the province are described as out of control, including the massive Richardson backcountry blaze.