Calgary Fire Department fields more than 200 calls due to strong winds, downed power lines

The Bow River is running high and fast, but it appears fears of a flood have subsided. As Lauren Pullen reports, the worst could be behind us but Calgary’s state of local emergency remains.

Strong winds and heavy rain that prompted warnings from Environment and Climate Change Canada had Calgary’s Fire Department responding to hundreds of calls on Tuesday.

Fire officials said crews responded to 115 calls related to the wind and another 91 calls related to down power lines over an “incredibly busy” 24 hour period starting midday Tuesday.

There were also five calls related to lighting strikes.

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“Many of those calls involved trees down, debris flying around, construction materials flying off buildings,” Calgary Fire Department public information officer Carol Henke told Global News. “Thankfully, I wasn’t made aware of any injuries related to all of those incidents.”

According to the City of Calgary, between 70 and 80 millimetres of rain, and up to 100 millimeters in some areas, fell in the city over the last 48 hours.

Wind gusts also peaked at 100 km/h on Tuesday and were expected to reach 70 km/h on Wednesday.

All Environment Canada wind and rainfall warnings have been lifted, but a state of local emergency remains in effect in Calgary.

Calgarians spent much of Wednesday cleaning up after Tuesday’s wind storm.

Scott Kellock with The Branch Manager Tree Experts said his team has been fielding calls from condo management companies, businesses and residents to clear downed trees across the city.

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“It’s organized chaos, that’s for sure,” Kellock told Global News.

According to Kellock, a “unique” combination of saturated root walls due to significant rainfall and heavy winds contributed to the amount of downed trees on Tuesday.

He said the storm was a good reminder for Calgarians to do regular pruning on their trees to reduce weight and prevent damage when the wind and rain picks up.

“It’s an unfortunate event for the trees of Calgary again  it’s not the first time and won’t be the last,” Kellock said. “A lot of the grief and sorrow we’re going through now can be prevented with preventative maintenance.”

There haven’t been reports of flooding from either the Elbow River or the Bow River; both of which had flows peak on Wednesday.

But water restoration crews said they’ve been working around the clock since Tuesday morning responding to sewer backups in basements around the city.

“We’ve had to do demolitions for drywall, electrical — some ceilings we’ve had to rip out because of water damage,” said Robert Longhurst with United Water Restoration Group. “It’s been pretty hectic. We’ll be going six, seven days a week on this.”

Downed trees and power lines left approximately 4,850 Calgarians without electricity on Tuesday, which prompted Enmax to deploy additional crews to repair those downed lines and restore power.

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According to the utility, power was restored to those impacted neighbourhoods as of Wednesday morning.

“There is still a lot of cleanup to do out there, our crews are out doing service requests that are in for downed trees,” Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Sue Henry told Global News. “I know a lot of Calgarians, myself included, have a lot of work to do in our own backyards to clean up what happened with the trees.”

While the worst of the weather impacts may have passed, emergency officials said Calgarians should still be mindful of their trees as the ground remains saturated and wind gusts continue.

Calgarians are being asked to report damage from the weather system to 311 and any downed power lines by calling 911 or Enmax at 403-514-6100.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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