State of local emergency called in Ft. McMurray due to flooding
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:35AM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, June 11, 2013 7:05PM MDT
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo declared a state of local emergency Tuesday, following days of incessant rain that prompted the Hangingstone River to breach its banks.
Officials said the declaration was put in place for public safety – as it allows the municipality and emergency officials to take measures to respond to circumstances that could arise from the flooding.
“We’re taking this special measure to protect residents’ safety and ensure the swiftest possible response to the flood,” Mayor Melissa Blake said in a press release. “We encourage residents to cooperate with local authorities and stay upbeat during these trying circumstances.”
The announcement came hours after provincial officials said Alberta Health Services had issued a boil water order for residents of the Waterways and Draper areas.
Those affected by the order must boil any water they plan to drink, make ice or cook, and wash raw vegetables with, and brush teeth – water must be at a rolling boil for at least one minute before use.
Officials said water levels in the area south of Fort McMurray continued to rise overnight – and flooding had struck parts of the Lower Townsite.
In addition, communities along the Hangingstone River were being threatened, as the river’s banks were eroding.
Early Tuesday morning, crews started blocking off roadways and sandbagging around Keyano College – however, water seeped into the college's sports and wellness centre, built only three years ago.
In addition, 130 people had to be evacuated from a townhouse-style housing complex on the college campus.
Residents of four homes in the Ptarmigan Trailer Park in Waterways had to be evacuated, along with residents of 14 homes in another community along the river, Grayling Terrace, where the slope opposite the community is eroding and falling into the river.
All evacuees have been taken to a reception centre at the Frank Lacroix Arena in Beacon Hill - and 69 other homes are on a voluntary evacuation order.
Other low-lying communities are being closely monitored as the water level continues to rise – and flooding has been reported on Franklin Avenue, plus on a number of side roads connected to Prairie Loop Boulevard.
As a result, Franklin Avenue at King Street, Penhorwood Street at Prairie Loop and Penhorwood Street at Mills Avenue have all been closed.
The province said the area has seen between 80 and 180 mm of precipitation since Friday morning – prompting the flood.
The Deputy Fire Chief of Emergency Services for Wood Buffalo said the river is at the highest point it's been at in more than a century.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development issued a flood warning about the situation in the area.