Up to 100,000 could be evacuated in Calgary as floods slam Alberta

Downtown Calgary looked a bit like a ghost town Friday with entire neighbourhoods shut down and people being told to stay as far away as possible from the area.

Rain-swollen rivers burst their banks across Southern Alberta Thursday and more than a dozen towns declared states of emergency, while communities including High River and Bragg Creek remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

It’s estimated rolling evacuations could affect roughly 100,000 people, but as most locals grabbed their belongings and took off many were determined to stick it out.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says her government is prepared financially to help and has promised the province will help flood victims put their lives back together. She says the government will provide financial aid to communities that need to rebuild.

Redford has spoken to Prime Minister Stephen Harper who has promised disaster relief for the province. Harper is on his way to Calgary to see the damage for himself.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the flooding situation is under control as much as it can be. He says the Bow River looks like an ocean and that it will remain steady for the next 12 hours.

Deputy police Chief Trevor Daroux said officers are doing their best, but aren’t in a position to physically remove people. “There will not be power once the areas are evacuated and gas as well. So we’re asking people to please comply and leave on their own.”

There are also growing concerns that looters will take advantage of all the now empty homes. “That’s why we have a plan in place and as we evacuate the area we will be backfilling with security forces,” Daroux adds.

Bruce Burrell, director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, says water levels on the Bow River likely won’t drop until Saturday afternoon.

“Depending on the extent of flooding we experience overnight, there may be areas of the city where people are not going to be able to get into until the weekend,” he told reporters at a morning briefing.

All schools were closed Friday and the Calgary zoo is being affected as well.

The flooding was the most destructive just south of Calgary as two people were swept away. One was found, but the second, a woman, is still missing.

Environment Canada is predicting more rain will fall today, but in much smaller amounts.

Calgary homeowners who hope to make claims with insurers for flood damage will be out of luck in most cases because not all flooding is covered under most insurance policies.