Atlantic Cities

Epic Flooding in Calgary, By the Numbers

Officials and residents are beginning to clean up Calgary, where the worst flooding in Alberta's history forced 75,000 people from their homes on Friday.

A torrent of water from the Bow and Elbow Rivers, which nearly overran the city's bridges, receded slowly over the weekend, leaving streets full of silt, waterlogged cars, and whole neighborhoods without electricity or working sewers. For most residents, the mandatory evacuation order was lifted on Sunday.

The flooding, Premier Alison Redford said, was "like nothing that we've ever seen before in Alberta. We will live with this forever." Schools will be closed until at least Thursday, and the city has asked residents to steer clear of downtown for the foreseeable future.

Today, as residents confront the damage to their homes in the Calgary area, the surging waters have moved downstream toward Medicine Hat, a city 200 miles to the southeast, which is bracing for a record flow in the South Saskatchewan River today.

So just how bad has the flooding in Alberta been? These stats should help put this historic event in context:

  • 1,097,000: the population of Calgary, which is Canada's third-largest city and fifth-largest metro area. It's bigger than all but nine U.S. cities.
  • 75,000: the number of people who were under a mandatory evacuation order in the city beginning on Friday.
  • 4: the number of people who have died so far in Alberta as a result of the floods. One woman, age 88, was found dead in Calgary.
  • 12: number of prisoners relocated as a result of rising water
  • 11: number of bridges that remained closed in Calgary on Monday morning.
  • 1,700: the number of cubic meters per second flowing in the Bow River in Calgary, the city's highest recorded flow since 1897.
  • 3: the number of times greater the peak levels of the Bow and Elbow Rivers were this weekend than in 2005, when floods caused $275 million in damage.
  • 6-7: number of times the normal water volume flowing through the Bow River on Friday.
  • 10: rows of the Saddledome, Calgary's hockey arena, that were submerged by flood waters.

Below, via Reuters, scenes from around the city over the weekend:


The Bow River over flows its banks into the downtown core and residential areas in Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. The heaviest floods in decades shut down the Canadian oil capital of Calgary on Friday, forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands of residents and shutting the Alberta city's downtown core. Some 1,300 troops were deployed to help with rescues and the mandatory evacuations that forced 100,000 people from their homes in Calgary and thousands more in the small towns surrounding the city. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


The grounds of the Calgary Stampede remain under water after they were flooded in Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. The flooding Bow River shut down all of the centre of Calgary, Canada's oil capital, and will remind closed until mid week. The flood forced tens of thousands of residents to leave their soggy homes. Heavy rain also closed roads and brought down bridges elsewhere in the province of Alberta, and there are reports of up to 4 deaths from the flooding. Many communities across southern Alberta are on mandatory evacuation orders because of severe flooding. (REUTERS/Melissa Renwick)


Heavy equipment begin repairs after a span of a railway bridge was swept away by flood waters on the Sheep River in Okotoks, Alberta, south of Calgary June 23, 2013. Power outages in the Canadian oil capital of Calgary could last for weeks or even months, city authorities said on Sunday, as record breaking flood waters moved downstream to threaten smaller communities in southeastern Alberta. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


Two men carrying a canoe walk on a muddy street after the community of Bowness was flooded by the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, June 23, 2013. (REUTERS/Melissa Renwick)


Muddy photographs dry on a bulletin board after it was salvaged from a flooded house in the community of Bowness in Calgary, Alberta, June 23, 2013. Power outages in the Canadian oil capital of Calgary could last for weeks or even months, city authorities said on Sunday, as record breaking flood waters moved downstream to threaten smaller communities in southeastern Alberta. (REUTERS/Melissa Renwick)


A pair of ducks swim on a flooded street in Calgary, Alberta June 23, 2013. An estimated 65,000 people have been allowed to return to their homes as flood waters recede. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


Gophers line the city sidewalks after their homes were flooded in the East Village area of Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. The flooding Bow River shut down all of the centre of Calgary, Canada's oil capital, and will remind closed until mid week The flood forced tens of thousands of residents to leave their soggy homes. Heavy rain also closed roads and brought down bridges elsewhere in the province of Alberta, and there are reports of up to 4 deaths from the flooding. Many communities across southern Alberta are on mandatory evacuation orders because of severe flooding. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)


The Bow River overflows its banks into a residential area in Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. The heaviest floods in decades shut down the Canadian oil capital of Calgary on Friday, forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands of residents and shutting the Alberta city's downtown core. Some 1,300 troops were deployed to help with rescues and the mandatory evacuations that forced 100,000 people from their homes in Calgary and thousands more in the small towns surrounding the city. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


A house is surrounded by water after the Bow River overflowed its banks nearby into residential areas of Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


A woman takes a photo of the flooded East Village in Calgary, Alberta June 22, 2013. Southern Alberta braced for more disruption on Saturday from floods that have killed at least two people, forced about 100,000 people from their homes and blacked out the center of Canada's oil capital, Calgary. Communities to the south and east of Calgary were put on high alert as the flood waters moved across the region. But with rainfall easing up, authorities were hopeful that the worst might now be over. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at The Atlantic Cities. He lives in New York. All posts »

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