A motorist awaits his tow truck after getting stuck in flash flood waters beneath the 60th Street underpass Tuesday. The man didn’t have to wait long after a group of Good Samaritans pulled him out.

A motorist awaits his tow truck after getting stuck in flash flood waters beneath the 60th Street underpass Tuesday. The man didn’t have to wait long after a group of Good Samaritans pulled him out.

Severe storm swamps city

A torrential downpour stormed through Central Alberta on Tuesday, quickly flooding numerous parking lots, streets and businesses in Red Deer within an hour’s period.



A torrential downpour stormed through Central Alberta on Tuesday, quickly flooding numerous parking lots, streets and businesses in Red Deer within an hour’s period.

The severe thunderstorm started at about 2 p.m. and then began to escalate into a rage so that an hour later, it was in full force. Similar heavy downpours were realized in several other Central Alberta communities, including Olds, Rocky Mountain House and Stettler, plus a small tornado was reported west of Didsbury.

Drains could not keep up with the quick downpour across many locations in Red Deer.

A couple of vehicles were observed floating at 51st Avenue and 47th Street. A City of Red Deer Environmental Services vacuum truck responded to that scene to clean up the excess.

Environmental Services manager Tom Warder said the city received about 14 calls from the intense storm.

“There were some reports of flooding in downtown businesses and if there are any blockages, our guys will address them,” said Warder late Tuesday afternoon.

Some businesses had to temporarily shut down because of flooding, including Real Canadian Superstore in the downtown.

Shopping malls were also affected by the heavy rains.

Dan Hachey, general manager of Parkland Mall, said rainwater gushed up from the drains and into some of the stores.

Pooling of water also occurred in the westside parking lot.

Hachey wasn’t aware of any extensive damage inside stores since the water was contained to floor levels. No shops closed as a result.

“There wasn’t severe damage. It was just unfortunate that a torrential downpour with hail plugs up drains,” said Hachey.

Red Deer Emergency Services fire-medics were called out to two reports in the city, including one at 3 p.m. of smoke inside the Empire Building along 48th Street and just off 49th Avenue.

Platoon chief Pat Mulrooney said there was some smoke likely due to a short circuit as a result of heavy flooding in the basement.

The power was shut off in the building and tenants were asked to evacuate. The African Centre was among the several businesses that are located in the basement.

A vacuum truck was brought in to clean up the water.

“The buildings on either side were fine,” Mulrooney said.

Ruth Eastman, a clinical hypnotherapist and counsellor who works on the second floor, said the rainstorm was so loud she could hardly hear her clients talking. She was evacuated and as a result she could not see any clients, including one who had driven two hours to get there.

A tree was also reported to be on fire against a power line, so Red Deer Emergency Services responded.

Mulrooney said that the city’s Electrical, Light and Power Department was called out once it was discovered the tree had landed on a power line, but wasn’t on fire. This was at 7156 Park Avenue at about 2:45 p.m.

Down at the Red Deer Golf and Country Club, golfers resumed heading back on the course shortly after skies cleared up.

“The only hardship we’re having is people can’t take the golf carts out now because it’s too wet right now,” said Dave Lachance, food services and clubhouse manager. “Our course tends to drain pretty good.”

Drivers along Hwy 2 slowed down and used their emergency blinkers as the rain and lightning storm continued. Some motorists parked on the highway’s shoulder or underneath overpasses to escape Mother Nature’s brunt.

Environment Canada confirmed a small tornado hit about 13 km south of Olds, west of Didsbury just after 2 p.m.

“Witnesses reported one roof was torn off, numerous trees were thrown around and a barn was damaged,” said Louis Kohanyi, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

There were also reports of cattle being injured by the tornado, he said.

“Eleven tornadoes on average are reported each year in Alberta,” said Kohanyi.

Didsbury RCMP would only confirm that there had been some “structural damage” done by the tornado.

According to Kevin Heppler, a peace officer with Mountain View County, the tornado touched down around Bergen Road and Range Road 25.

“It didn’t last long and we’re currently assessing the situation,” said Heppler. “We’ve heard trees were down and couple hay sheds, things like that.”

Kohanyi said the storm brought with it some hail measuring five mm in diameter at Red Deer Airport. Gusts reached up to 70 km/h. In one hour, 10 mm of rain was reported.

Another 10 to 15 mm of rain was expected to occur overnight in Red Deer from another severe thunderstorm that was again expected to move through. Wind gusts of 60 to 90 km/h were also forecast.

Today’s temperature for Red Deer was expected to reach a high of 18C, cooler than the normal high of 22 C. For anyone experiencing flooding, the City of Red Deer Emergency Services recommends the following:

• Turn off basement faucets and outside gas valve. Shut off electricity if safe to do so.

• Never try to cross a flood area on foot. The fast moving water could sweep you away.

• If you are in a car, try not to drive through floodwaters. Fast moving water could sweep your car away. If your vehicle is caught in fast rising waters, leave it and save yourself and your passengers.

If you have concerns, please contact Environmental Services at 403-342-8750.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read