Severe Flooding in Calgary and Southern Alberta
Calgary floods claim lives
On Friday June 21, the Calgary Rapid Relief Team sprang into action. Severe flooding had hit the downtown area of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a large city with a population of over 1 million.
Three weeks of incessant rains, a tremendous downpour in the outlying foothills area and the Rocky Mountains was finally too much. The two waterways that flowed through the city — the Elbow River and the Bow River — finally burst their banks. This created an unstoppable, devastating, miniature tsunami that ripped its way through upper class neighbourhoods, parkades, first floors of office buildings, condominiums, construction sites, and many other areas.
“A state of emergency has been declared in the city of Calgary”
So said Mayor, Naheed Nenshi on that Friday afternoon. The downtown area was closed. The power was shut off to avoid the risk of an explosion or a wild fire. An immediate evacuation of the area was ordered. Everyone and everything was rapidly coming to standstill — even the emergency crews were battling to maintain road blockages and conduct evacuation strategies. This is where the PBCC Rapid Relief Team came to the rescue.
Supplying food and drink for 2 days
The Calgary RRT team was mainly involved with supplying the emergency personnel, the military, and the clean-up crews with food and drink on both Friday and Saturday, the harshest 48 hours of the flood. On Friday they helped out with the evacuation of a senior citizen assisted living centre, working late into the night. Food and drink was provided for the evacuees, who were tired, cold, and hungry. They’d had no power for nearly 8 hours. The senior citizens were able to take refuge in the warm RRT vehicles. There they rested until the city buses came to take them to a nearby church where they could sleep the night.
Three quarters of a town completely wiped out
On Saturday, the Calgary RRT travelled to one of the outlying towns, High River, which was the hardest hit of the smaller towns in the area. The population was roughly 11,000. Three quarters of the town was completely wiped out.
Here, food and drink was generously distributed and again very much appreciated. One of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers who was on the scene remarked, “Thanks for what you guys are doing, they only have their dry ration packages which are quickly diminishing. We are truly thankful for whatever you can do for us.”
10,000 people homeless
In the days following, inspection officials worked overtime to assess the damage in Calgary and the surrounding areas. It’s estimated that 10,000 people would not be able to return to their homes for an indefinite amount of time. It is a true mercy that only four lives were lost in this natural disaster.