Downtown Calgary on June 21 (Photo credit: Ryan Quan)
“We don’t have a flood, we have a disaster,” Emile Blokland, mayor of High River, told a scrum of reporters standing in the middle of a half-flooded street. His town of a little over 10,000 was left a hellish, muddy mess by the receding waters. So too was much of the Canadian province of Alberta. Four people were left dead.
About six months worth of rain fell in less than 36 hours in some parts– on land already saturated with water. It turned the relatively dry region into a soaked sponge within a couple days. The rivers that flow through the province were soon overwhelmed with flood waters coming down from the mountains, and they soon began flowing at five to ten times their normal rate.
In Calgary, 75,000 were forced to evacuate as the water swallowed streets. The city’s downtown is sandwiched between the Elbow and Bow Rivers. Office buildings, infrastructure, the local zoo, and the home of the Calgary Flames were left soaked as hippos escaped from their enclosures and the Saddledome was filled like a bathtub up to the 10th row.