Heavy rains in Fort McMurray, Alta., have caused flooded streets and knocked out traffic lights, forcing the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to activate its emergency operations centre for the first time since parts of the city were devastated by a wildfire in May.
The municipality is advising people to restrict travel in the town, as the localized flooding causes the closure of major roads such as Gregoire Drive and Mackenzie Boulevard.
City municipal crews are working in drainage trucks to suck up the water, but Environment Canada anticipates the rainfall to continue for most of the day.
“Residents whose properties have been susceptible to basement flooding in the past should ensure any valuables are stored in a safe place,” the municipality wrote on Twitter.
“Barricades have been placed on the roads for your protection. If you encounter a barricade, we encourage residents to go another way.”
Worst in 20 years
Brenda Toutant, who has lived in the community for 40 years, says she only remembers it being this bad once before, two decades ago.
“It’s crazy. There’s a car down the road that keeps floating,” she said. “The front two tires are on the ground I think but the back is moving as trucks go by,” she said.
The flooding comes just months after the entire city of 90,000 people was forced to evacuate as a massive wildfire beared down. Toutant said 2016 has been a tough year for her community, from fires to floods.
“I really wish Mother Nature would have sent the rain before the fires, but, you know, it is what it is.”
At one point, the water rose so high at her Grey Crescent home she thought it would swamp her friend’s car parked in the driveway.
Two boys had to go fetch the car’s keys from a neighbour.
“They went over in a boat … because he couldn’t get across, and I moved the car,” said Toutant.
Jet Skis on Gregoire Drive
Meanwhile, at least one person took the opportunity to Jet Ski in the downtown.
Tyrone Kendall, 18, said that he was dared by his friends to do it — and so he did. He took his Jeep and trailer with his Jet Ski on it and unloaded the vehicle into a flooded street in front of a McDonald’s in the Gregoire neighbourhood.
‘Not too many people can say they rode their Jet-Skis on Gregoire Drive.’ – Tyrone Kendall
“The rain was still pouring down, the water was pretty cold,” Kendall said.
“I wasn’t too worried about wiping out, it was probably about four and half feet [1.3 metres] of water. I only rode it for four or five laps, five minutes tops, I got out of their quickly as the vac trucks were coming in. I didn’t want to interfere.”
“It’s just … not too many people can say they rode their Jet Skis on Gregoire Drive.”