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Residents of Elbow Park make their way back to their home in Calgary June 22, 2013. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Residents of Elbow Park make their way back to their home in Calgary June 22, 2013. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Elderly woman found dead in apartment after flooding Add to ...

An elderly woman who Calgary police believe chose to defy the mandatory evacuation order in her community brought on by massive flooding was found dead Sunday, although the cause of death has not been determined.

The deceased woman’s apartment is on the main floor of her building and floodwater was in her apartment, Calgary deputy police chief Trevor Daroux said in a briefing Sunday evening. She lived in Mission, a hard-hit area of town wrapped by the Elbow River, and family members found the 88-year old women when someone went to check on her, he said. Criminal activity has been ruled out.

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Mission is among the zones that lost power as the Bow and Elbow rivers forced officials to shut down transformer stations.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi sent his sympathies.

“All of us of Calgarians share in the heartbreak of that family and those friends,” he told reporters. “It is a loss to all of us as Calgarians.”

Calgary, so far, has avoided fatalities due to flooding. RCMP confirmed three bodies were recovered from the Highwood River near High River, 60-kilometres south of Calgary, and the two women and one man died in the natural disaster. RCMP received reports of a fourth body in the river, but has not been able to confirm it.

Roads have washing away in Alberta’s largest city and at least one bridge is unstable. The TransCanada near Canmore is also damage, trapping residents in town. Twenty-five communities in Alberta declared a state of emergency since the crisis started Thursday. High Riveris one of the hardest hit areas, with Canmore close behind. Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Drumheller, and Siska First Nation are among those in a state of emergency.

Downtown Calgary, adjacent to the Bow, was severely flooded and left without power. Mr. Nenshi and city officials expect large swaths of the core to open early this week. Only building owners and property managers will be allowed downtown Monday and Tuesday in order to inspect building hosting 90 to 95 per cent of downtown employees. If the properties pass their inspections and power has returned, city inspectors will conduct a final assessment and decide whether employees can get back to their offices.

But until then, Mr. Nenshi wants residents to stay put.

“If you can avoid it, don’t go downtown on Monday and Tuesday,” Mr. Nenshi said. “Stay out of the downtown commercial core. We have assessment teams going out and doing their work and we should keep the roads clear for them.”

He asked employers to keep employees out of downtown unless they are essential. Roughly 80 per cent of Calgary’s transit system is running, but the light rail system severely limited, making it difficult to reach downtown. Mr. Neshi hopes the LRT will get downtown within the next two days, save for the south line, which needs “some repairs.” Bus service will try to cover the LRT’s troubles in the south.

Mr. Nenshi warned citizens to stay away from the river and its nearby pathways. The banks and paved paths may look safe, but sinkholes and extreme erosion threaten safety.

Roughly 65,000 Calgarians who were evacuated are free to return home, although three communities – Bowness, Sunnyside, and Elbow Park – now lack sewer services. About 75,000 Calgarians were ordered to leave their homes.

The Elbow and Bow are receding, a slew of dangers remain. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improperly vented pumps, along with electrical problems, are among Mr. Nenshi’s concerns. Further, floodwater is “chemically dangerous,” he said, and folks who were evacuated must not touch it and even throw out food in sealed metal cans.

About 24,000 Calgarians were without power as of Sunday evening.

Follow on Twitter: @CarrieTait

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