Torrential rains and widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta on Thursday washed out roads and bridges, sent residents scurrying for safety, and delivered up surreal scenes of cars, couches and refrigerators just floating away.
The RCMP put out a call for help to the Canadian Armed Forces, which sent in two helicopters and a Hercules aircraft to help extract people stranded by water.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying the federal government would offer “any and all possible assistance to the Province of Alberta in response to the situation.”
Ron MacDonald surveyed the waters of the Elbow River rising quickly in front of his home in Calgary’s Mission neighbourhood on Thursday, a storm drain disappearing, inch by inch, under the muddy brown current.
“I’ve been here 23 years and I’ve never flooded, but my neighbours have. It could be worse than the last flood,” said Mr. MacDonald, one of thousands of residents currently under mandatory evacuation order, as the city prepared on Thursday night for water levels that have not been recorded in decades.
Officials said as many as 100,000 people in low-lying neighbourhoods could be forced from their homes, an evacuation that would take place in stages over the next few days. Residents may not be able to return to their homes for up to one week, officials said.