No evacuation orders expected as Calgary river water levels reach peak, officials say

Calgary officials are continuing to monitor the skies closely as the city's major rivers are expected to receive peak flows Tuesday and Wednesday.

City has closed portion of Memorial Drive as temporary berm has been set up

Calgary officials are continuing to monitor the skies closely as the city's major rivers are expected to receive peak flows Tuesday and Wednesday.

The city's latest modelling shows the peak for the Bow River coming on Wednesday evening. The Elbow River is expected to peak Tuesday, with an update on the timing expected later in the morning.

The city remains under a state of local emergency called on Monday.

The latest:

  • City officials have closed a portion of Memorial Drive to construct a temporary berm.
  • Plans to construct a berm to protect the community of Bowness are paused. Officials are seeking an alternative solution.
  • Residents of Sunnyside and Bowness could see officials go door-to-door to warn of evacuation orders if conditions worsen.
  • Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, says she wants to see this afternoon's forecast before any decisions are made on evacuations.
  • Boating advisories are in place for the Bow and Elbow rivers. Recreation access to the Glenmore Reservoir is restricted.
  • City officials say it's encouraging to see that the rain isn't as heavy as initially forecast.

The two areas that the city remains most concerned about are the Bowness and Sunnyside communities. It has closed off Memorial Drive between 10th Street N.W. in the Kensington area and Edmonton Trail N.E.

Sunnyside resident Colton O'Reilly said last night he received an emergency signal and is waiting to see what happens next.

"We're keeping our eyes on the river," he said.

That closure was done for the construction of a temporary berm that runs across Memorial Drive. City officials decided to take that mitigation measure Monday given the forecast in the coming days.

"There isn't flooding occurring yet, but it's a protective measure should the water level come to what we think it might," Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday morning.

City officials previously lowered the Glenmore Reservoir to attenuate the water coming in. For that reason, officials are not as concerned about the Elbow River as of Tuesday morning — keeping in mind that things could change as forecasts change.

"Things are definitely under control. We learned a lot in 2013," said Henry, referring to the combination of rapidly melting snow in the mountains and seemingly endless rainfall that caused $5 billion in damages and claimed five lives in southern Alberta in 2013.

"The fact that we're talking about this days before the peak of the river is expected is actually really good news.

"We can't take away all the risk, which is why we are concerned about areas like Sunnyside and Bowness. There is risk for them."

On Monday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the state of local emergency allows police and fire departments to go door-to-door in the event of an evacuation.

It also gives the city's water services team access to property to protect critical infrastructure, and secure supplies quickly if need be.

In a warning issued Tuesday shortly after 5 a.m., Environment Canada said periods of heavy rain would continue today, with rainfall totals between 75 to 125 mm of rain by Wednesday morning in the Calgary region.

The heaviest rain is expected to fall to the west, the agency said, with rainfall totals of 150 mm or more possible along the Foothills and in the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

More to come.

City of Calgary's flood risk zone map

Click on the map below to zoom in and out as well as move around. The red areas are potential floodways, the dark orange flood fringe zones, the light orange flood plains and the yellow overland flow.

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