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Heavy rain and thunderstorms in Fort McMurray this morning floods our street. We're on top of a hill but the awkward storm drain layout floods the area regularly. Construction debris, a rubber ducky, and a canoe bathe in the water. Melissa Hall

Wildfire-stricken Fort McMurray battles major floods


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 1, 2016, 4:58 PM - Where were these downpours when the city really needed it?

Fort McMurray in northern Alberta made world headlines earlier this year when a major wildfire, worsened by above-seasonal temperatures, high winds and extended dry conditions, threatened the city. 

In the end, 88,000 people were forced to flee, and the flames destroyed around 10 per cent of buildings in the city.

Now, on top of everything else, Fort McMurray has endured weekend downpours that have triggered flooding in some parts of the community.

At one point, more than 80 mm fell in a short time in some areas, forcing the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, to reactivate its emergency operations centre over the weekend.

"It's a bad dream," city councillor Keith McGrath told the CBC. "I think I'm in a bit of a denial state. How can this happen? How can so much happen within the span of three months?"

No evacuation orders were issued, and a state of emergency was not declared, but officials announced several barricades and asked residents to restrict travel on Sunday.

"Crews have since removed numerous barricades, swept various streets and pumped up pooled water," the municipality said in a release on its website. "Crews will continue to monitor the road systems."

Several residents reported basement flooding, along with power outages, though some, like the gentleman waterskiing in a flooded street in the video below, tried to make the most of a bad situation.

Some were more sardonic, such as Lester Defina, whom Fort McMurray today interviewed while he was covering his mobile home with a tarpaulin, and whom the newspaper said had recently finished clearing the wildfire smoke smell from the home's interior.

"I figured I should cover the roof before the wind and rain gets even worse," Defina told the paper. "If I have to evacuate again, I hope this time I remember to close the window."

The worst of the rain is over, and there are no longer any rainfall warnings in effect, but there's still rain to fall. Parts of northern Alberta could still tally as much as 50 mm more by Tuesday.

SOURCES: Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality | Fort McMurray Today | CBC News

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