Alberta Floods Continue…

alberta_floods_saddledomeGood day folks. Yesterday, after hearing the news about the flooding taking place in Alberta and elsewhere, my wife and I became understandably concerned and started calling around to make sure our friends and family were alright. I was able to reach my uncle and aunt in Lethbridge and learned that they are just fine. However, I still await to hear from my cousin and her husband who live in Calgary. No word yet on whether or not they were effected, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they too are safe and comfortable.

All told, the number of evacuees has now reached 175,000 as more residents in the south have been told to expect floods as rainfall continues. Some good news has been coming in too, which includes the fact that some evacuation orders from the city of Calgary are expected to be lifted. This is certainly good news for people who live there and who’ve been glued to their TVs and radios, wondering if they would have to move and risk losing their homes.

And of course, I know that there are plenty of people out there who have family and friends effected by this and other such tragedies. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my being sure to send out hope and good vibes for them as well. It’s not a comfortable thing, hearing that people you know and love are in the middle of a crisis zone, so I hope it ends soon and without any more deaths.

I should also note that in honor of this latest example of the dangers of Climate Change that I’ve decided to do a series dedicated to the current climate crisis and what we can do about it. Its a subject I’ve been studying for some time and there’s a plethora of information out there that needs to be shared so people can make informed choices and know exactly what they’re up against.

At the same time, I want to do this to hammer some more nails in the coffin of Climate Change denial. It seems that even though most professional deniers have been in full retreat in recent years, there are still those who persist in saying that Climate Change is just a theory, “junk science”, or some kind of conspiracy. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would persist in this, but regardless of the agendas of politicians or industry lobbyists, I choose to believe that most people can be reached through information.

So expect to see plenty of posts on that subject. First up, a post entitled “Rising Tides and Sinking Cities”. And to my dear cousin, Elizabeth-Anne and her husband and newborn baby. If you’re reading this, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. And for God sake’s, let us know that you’re okay! I’m sure you are, but it would still be nice to hear it.

Thank you all and best wishes to everyone out there!

 

 

Climate Crisis: Alberta Flooding!

Downtown Calgary
Downtown Calgary

In what it is a testament to the effects of Climate Change, Alberta experienced severe flooding which has so far displaced an estimated 100,000 people and led to untold millions in property damage. The flooding began Thursday morning, but the causes are due to rain and thunder storms which have been going on all over the southern province for days.

Road closures began shortly thereafter and people living in low-lying areas were forced to leave their homes. As the rivers rose, homes, vehicles and all low-lying structures were washed away. In the city of Calgary, where the downtown core sits on the banks of the Bow River, roughly 75,000 people (which may include my cousin and her husband) needed to be evacuated and the downtown area closed entirely.

Flooding in the streets of Underwood
Flooding in downtown Underwood

While this accounts for the majority of people displaced, this city and its residents were hardly alone. Other major cities – such as Medicine Hat and Lethbridge (where an uncle and aunt of mine live) – were forced to declare a state of emergency and close down their roadways as Cougar Creek, High River, and other major waterways became elevated and threatened riverfront properties, businesses and roadways. Countless people were also forced to abandon their vehicles as the waters threatened to overtake them too.

Updated reports have also indicated that the flooding has reached as far west as the east Kootenay region of British Columbia, washing out sections of the Trans-Canada Highway and forcing the cities of Banff and Canmore to also declare a state of emergency. No deaths were reported on Thursday, but three bodies were found floating in High River today. In all likelihood, these individuals were the victims of roadway floods, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

chinook_schemIt seems that no one in region has been unaffected, and already meteorologists and climate experts have confirmed Climate Change as the cause. Rising temperatures means unpredictable weather patterns, due in part to more water evaporating and saturating the air with moisture. And in the southern Alberta region, the area is known for its “Chinook Winds” – air currents that come down from the Rocky Mountains, bringing warm, moist air down into the Prairies.

alberta_flood_tooniehailHowever, these winds brought significantly more moisture than expected this year, as temperatures in the mountain ranges were warmer and led to more glacial ice melting. This in turn brought air currents that were more saturated down into Alberta and caused significant, extended downpours. People living across the province also reported hail stones the size of toonies (a two dollar coin about an inch in diameter).

First responders, the RCMP and the Canadian military have been sent in to assist with evacuation and rescues, as well as sand-bagging and other disaster relief efforts. All told, some 12,000 soldiers are also assisting with the efforts, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper also flew in to help oversea and coordinate with the local authorities.

Washed out section of the Trans Canada Highway
Washed out section of the Trans Canada Highway

But worst yet is the fact that more flooding is expected to come. Earlier today, evacuees and rescue workers were given a  temporary respite from the rains, but they are no means done. As the warm weather “Chinook” system continues to move in, Albertans and those living downriver in British Columbia can expect the riverbanks to continue to erode and cause more damage.

Adding to the problem is the extensive amount of collateral damage, caused by overflown sewage pipes, gas leaks, and other toxic materials leaching into the soil and water. No telling just how cleanup and repair will be needed once this is over, but at the moment, the only concerns are making sure everyone is accounted for and out of harm’s way, and that people are prepared for the next wave.

My wife and I send our thoughts and prayers to all the people in Alberta and BC who are affected by this crisis, and not just the friends and family we have there. And I sincerely hope that this crisis – in conjunction with countless others happening around the world – will raise people’s awareness to the changes happening in our world. It’s not too late to stop them, and we can’t afford not to!

Sources: cbc.ca, (2), globalnews.ca