Flooding In The Saddledome Has Destroyed Arena's Nerve Centre: Flames President Ken King

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CALGARY - A Calgary Flame stepping from the tunnel onto the Saddledome ice Saturday would have required scuba gear.

The Scotiabank Saddledome has been hit hard by the floods that ravaged parts of Southern Alberta.

The floodwaters reached the eighth row of seats in the lower bowl and submerged the Flames dressing room, team president Ken King said Saturday.

"That means if you were a hockey player walking from the tunnel onto the ice, you would be underwater yourself," he said. "It's very difficult to describe millions of gallons of water, sitting in that building."

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A contract signed by former Flames captain Jim Peplinski was among some portable memorabilia saved.

But everything else on the Saddledome event level — the nerve centre for games and concerts — was "a total loss," King told reporters at a McMahon Stadium news conference.

The event level is the lowest floor in the building. The ice plant, ice resurfacing machines, kitchens and Saddledome staff uniforms are examples of what was under water Saturday.

"Everything that happens on the event level is drowned. Everything," King stated.

He stressed that the Saddledome was "real estate, a building" and the loss of life and homes Southern Albertans have suffered is more important.

But the Saddledome has been a part of the lifeblood of the city since it was built in 1983 for the arrival of the NHL's Flames and the 1988 Winter Olympics.

In addition to serving as the home arena of the Flames, Western Hockey Leagues' Hitmen, and National Lacrosse League's Roughnecks, it is a concert venue as well as exhibition space for the Calgary Stampede, which opens July 5.

City officials have not cancelled this year's Stampede.

"That's a move-in that's nine days from now," King said. "That may seem ludicrously ambitious, but this is Calgary."

King dispelled the rumour that the Jumbotron was on the arena floor when the Elbow River gushed into the building early Friday morning.

He confirmed, however, the electronics that operate the massive scoreboard were under about four metres of water "and not salvageable."

He couldn't begin to put a dollar figure on the loss.

"We believe our insurance is full and intact and will cover us for this eventuality," King said.

Next season's WHL and NHL schedules have yet to be released, but the WHL season starts the third week of September and the NHL's the first week of October.

"We're going to be ready for the opening of the season," King vowed. "That's our goal and our objective.

"If something between us and that that we're unaware of . . . and appreciate we don't know what's under there at this point. The quicker we can get in there and start pumping water, the quicker we're going to be able to answer that question with certainty."

But the floodwaters must recede before the restoration of the Saddledome can begin.

"We have equipment, the biggest water pumps in North America on standby for us and many of them," King said.

"We have people on standby to go to work, but they can only go to work and the equipment can only be put in place once we see the river subside and obviously the flood damage subside from our building."

The Flames vice-president of building operations said the water line was starting to drop in the arena, but urged people to stay clear of the Saddledome because it was not safe there.

"There's a lot of heavy equipment moving around," Libby Raines said.

Once the water is out, the Saddledome will be inspected, she added.

"We'll get our consultants in and make sure we get a thorough look at the building," she explained. "At this point, we're fairly confident that we should be structurally intact, but, again, we'll have that all looked at."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and CFL commissioner Mark Cohon have called to offer assistance, King said.

The Flames also own the CFL's Calgary Stampeders and some hockey staff will work out of offices at McMahon Stadium starting Monday.

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Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith tweeted this photo of the rising waters of the Highwood River.

"This is the view of the bridge over the Highwood. Normally there is a couple metres clearance below it. #ableg #wrp"

southern alberta flooding

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You can find updates on various communities and their flood status at Alberta Emergency Alert http://www.emergencyalert.alberta.ca/

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Cougar Creek in Canmore is completely overrun by floods. High River, Black Diamond and Calgary are also facing quickly rising water levels. The latest on evacuations and warnings can be found in our story.

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From the Alberta Emergency Alert:

All residents in north west, south west and north east High River are under mandatory evacuation. Crews are working to reach residents in the Vista Mirage area. Information will be posted on the High River website at www.highriver.ca.

Evacuate immediately. Please go to Highwood High School on 12th Ave where the emergency evacuation centre has been opened.

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From Alberta Emergency Alert:

There is localized flooding in Town, beginning near the Foothills Lions Campground. Hwy 22 is closed near that location. Residents west of 1st St SW are being evacuated to the Reception Centre (Oilfields Arena). Power outages may follow. The Water Treatment Plant has been shut down due to flood & safety concerns. Residents are requested to conserve water.

Door to door notification of the evacuation is taking place. Donations of towels and blankets can be made at the Arena. Food donations may be required later in the day. The town is currently investigating sources of bottled water. More information.

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From the City of Calgary:

The decision was made by Deputy Mayor Richard Pootmans and Ald. John Mar to declare a SOLE based on the potential severity of the incoming high river flows in conjunction with expected heavy rainfall. The City of Calgary has begun to implement its flood response plans with the deployment of sandbags and temporary dams at key locations to protect property and infrastructure. The City is working to ensure the safety of Calgarians and asks for their patience and cooperation during this time. Citizens are reminded to: · Stay away from rivers and creeks as the water is rising and moving quickly, and banks may be unstable. · Avoid storm water ponds and storm drains, and do not let children play near them. · Do not drive through flooded areas such as underpasses. · If you experience basement seepage or overland flooding, call 3-1-1 to report. · If you or someone else is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1. Remember that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only; please use 3-1-1 for reporting non-emergency issues.

· Monitor local media and City of Calgary messages. For more information on flooding, visit calgary.ca/flooding.

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cougar creek

Photo: Wade Graham, Facebook

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Cougar Creek threatens homes with its mighty surge.

Video: Wade Graham, Facebook

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cougar creek canmore

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From Alberta Emergency Alerts:

There is a hazardous materials release threatening life and the environment. An sour gas pipeline rupture has caused a release of H2S in the Town of Turner Valley. Residents are ordered to protect in place. Emergency crews have evacuated the affected areas and will continue to monitor.

Instructions:

Move indoors and stay indoors. Prepare for possible evacuation. Seek medical attention if you experience breathing difficulties. Follow the directions of local authorities.

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"The City of Calgary has declared a state of emergency as expected heavy rainfall combined with the potential of incoming high river flows could become severe.

The city is implementing its flood response plan with the deployment of sandbags and temporary dams to protect property and infrastructure.

Calgarians are advised to stay away from rivers and creeks as rising water may makes banks unstable.

Driving through flooded areas such as underpasses or children playing near storm water ponds and drains should also be avoided."

More here.

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cougar creek

Photo credit: Lauren Wheeler

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Turner Valley, a community southwest of Calgary, was placed under an emergency alert Thursday after a sour gas pipeline ruptured. The alert urged people to move indoors and to prepare for a possible evacuation.

What is sour gas, exactly, and what's the harm? Read more here.

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Our friends up the hill got in a bit of a pickle today when they headed to Canmore to cover the flooding.

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The Town of High River is now under an emergency evacuation alert. There is extremely dangerous and rapid flooding occurring in High River. Authorities are warning residents to move to high ground.

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There is a threat of extremely dangerous and rapid flooding in the County of Lethbridge. The County of Lethbridge declared a local state of emergency at 11:10 a.m. and issued an evacuation order for residents living in the Oldman River valley.

An evacuee reception centre is at the County Administration building at #100, 905 4th Avenue South downtown.

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