POLITICS

Alberta Floods: Harper Tells Alison Redford Ottawa Will Do All It Can

06/21/2013 10:23 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - Stephen Harper is on his way to Calgary to see for himself the devastation wrought by heavy flooding in his hometown and the surrounding area.

Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for the prime minister, tweeted that Harper is en route to Alberta "to tour flood damage" with Premier Alison Redford.

"I want to assure Albertans that the federal government has offered any and all possible assistance to the province of Alberta in response to the situation" Harper said in a statement.

"Canadian Armed Forces assets, including a Cormorant and Griffon helicopter, have been deployed to the area to assist the Alberta Provincial Emergency team with rescue and evacuation efforts.

"We hope for a speedy end to the flooding and return to safe conditions as soon as possible. We remain ready to provide additional assistance if requested by provincial authorities."

Harper has already promised Redford she'll have Ottawa's full support for rescue and recovery efforts as the province struggles to deal with the surging water.

The two spoke by phone today and agreed to maintain close contact to ensure a co-ordinated response to the disaster.

The military has the two helicopters and a Hercules transport working on rescue efforts and plans to send in more aircraft and 350 soldiers in the next 24 hours, said a spokeswoman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

She said the helicopters plucked 31 people from the rooftops of flooded houses overnight.

A spokesman for Harper says the prime minister has also spoken to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who provided an update on the situation in his city, which includes Harper's riding of Calgary Southwest.

Harper again promised Nenshi that the federal government will do all it can to help.

The flooding situation in Calgary is as under control as it can be for now, said Nenshi, noting that water levels on the Elbow River — one of two rivers that flow through the city — have crested.

Officials say as many as 100,000 people may have left their homes.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair praised Nenshi for his leadership through the flooding and offered a tribute to other officials and emergency workers.

"I would like to acknowledge municipal, provincial and federal officials, in particular first responders, and salute their hard work and professionalism under difficult circumstances," Mulcair said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those facing flooded homes and evacuations."

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