Visiting Kitchener worker trapped by Calgary flooding

In All, News by Linda Givetash

This piece was also featured in: Waterloo Region Record
Published: July 21, 2013 | [ WEB ]
Related: Severe flooding a sign of future weather woes, UW researcher says

CANMORE, AB. —

Trapped in a friend’s home watching the constant downpour, Adam Vuylsteke didn’t expect his getaway from Guelph would look quite like this.

Vuylsteke, 26, who works in Kitchener, arrived in Alberta earlier in the week. He was driving east to Canmore from Calgary Wednesday evening as heavy rains that have resulted in extensive flooding hit the region.

There for a childhood friend’s wedding, he didn’t anticipate how the weather would impact the trip.

“On the drive into Canmore it was torrential downpours. It was late, about 10 o’clock at night and there were road closures, I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said. “All through the night it was torrential downpours.”

While the rain in Canmore has become lighter through Friday, Vuylsteke said, other areas in Alberta are being hit by the impact.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the flooding situation in his city is under control as much as it can be — for now.

On Thursday the Bow River Basin was battered with up to 100 millimetres of rain. Environment Canada’s forecast calls for more rain in the area, but in much smaller amounts.

Nenshi said water levels on the Elbow River, one of two rivers that flow through the southern Alberta city, has crested.

There have been flashpoints of chaos from Banff and Canmore and Crowsnest Pass in the Rockies and south to Lethbridge.

More than a dozen towns have declared states of emergency. Entire communities, including High River and Bragg Creek, near Calgary are under mandatory evacuation orders.

Some of the worst flooding hit High River, where it’s estimated half of the people in the town have experienced flooding in their homes.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford promised the province will help flood victims put their lives back together and provide financial aid to communities that need to rebuild.

For Vuylsteke, he’s relieved that the friend he is staying with in Canmore is on higher ground toward Mt. Lawrence Grassi and unaffected by flooding. But with roads closed in and around the city, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to leave or if the wedding is still a possibility.

“The wedding was supposed to be today but the resort is basically shut down and they’re hoping they can slate it for tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not the best situation. People are stranded in Calgary, some stranded in Canmore.”

“You can’t really go west or east right now.”

Whether Vuylsteke can make his Sunday flight back to Guelph is also uncertain as roads between the two cities have been closed.

“Hopefully things get figured out by Sunday so I can get home.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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Linda Givetash

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Linda Givetash is a Canadian-South African freelance journalist based in Vancouver, B.C. Her work has appeared in print, digital and broadcast media outlets around the globe.