More Canadian troops en route to flood-ravaged southern Alberta
Published Friday, June 21, 2013 7:13PM EDT
The number of Canadian troops deployed to flood zones across southern Alberta is expected to reach 1,300 by Friday evening as the province struggles to deal with a deluge unprecedented in scale.
National Defence Minister Peter MacKay told CTV’s Power Play Friday that 1,000 troops from the Garrison in Edmonton were en route to join rescue efforts and help battle the floodwaters in southern Alberta, where thousands of residents have been forced to leave their homes due to torrential rains and massive flooding.
“They’ll be there to work shoulder-to-shoulder in the efforts that are ongoing,” MacKay said.
The troops are scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m. local time.
As earlier reported by CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson, approximately 150 soldiers are in the hard-hit area of Canmore, with that number expected to rise to 350 by 7 p.m.
Approximately 100 engineers are being directed to Cochrane, while 300-400 soldiers are on standby and split between Red Deer and Edmonton. Fifty troops are headed to Calgary.
Military convoys were on their way to High River Friday afternoon.
The military is also generating 150 to 200 reservists, Stephenson reported, but they won’t be involved in military efforts until Saturday.
“A military source tells me the military has the equipment they need to be able to move people around the very rough and rugged terrain," Stephenson told CTV News Channel earlier Friday.
"The military is ideally suited to be there."
Hundreds of troops were already working in the region Thursday evening, after the military was called in by the RCMP to help with evacuations in some hard-hit communities, including High River. The military sent two helicopters and a Hercules aircraft to pull at least 31 stranded residents from rooftops.
MacKay said Canadian Forces are on the ground working with provincial personnel, who have taken the lead in response efforts.
“We’ll be working hand-in-hand with all of those on the ground trying to stem the flow of the water,” he said over the phone from Nova Scotia. “This is something we’ve never seen, certainly in the city of Calgary and surrounding communities.”
There hasn’t been a specific request for anything other than engineering support, but MacKay noted that troops are providing human support, transportation, and potential rescue aid.
“We know because of the levels of water and the way in which this has unfolded so quickly, the Canadian Forces are very adept at being able to move,” he said.
MacKay said early assessments indicate that this domestic contribution is one of the Canadian military’s biggest in history.
“This is a catastrophic disaster by any measure,” he said.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has pledged that the province will be there to help flood victims recover from the damage. She said she had also spoken to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who gave a similar promise that disaster relief will be forthcoming.
Harper flew to Calgary Friday afternoon to tour the disaster zone with Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.