About 2,000 people were evacuated from 285 campsites at the Lion’s Campground late Saturday (June 22) within three hours of officials declaring the state of emergency in the town of Devon, located about 15 miles southwest of Edmonton, Alberta.
The campsite flooded overnight after visitors had evacuated. The extent of the damage won’t be known until the water recedes. No more evacuations are expected to take place, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Evacuees were relocated to the Baptist Church and parking lots at the Devon Community Center, public library, RCMP office and Extra Foods grocery store. Officials, however, were working Sunday to move the evacuees at one central site, Fisher said.
Ron and Judy Babiuk were seated in front of their parked trailer at the Devon Community Centre on Sunday afternoon. The two said they were given two hours notice Saturday and described the evacuation as “smooth sailing.”
The two, who live at the campsite during the summer, originally relocated to the parking lot near the library but were swarmed by mosquitoes. They settled on the community center because it has access to power outlets.
“It’s better safe than sorry,” Ron said.
“Everyone’s been so helpful,” Judy added. “The fire department, police and peace officers were absolutely extraordinary. There was no panic and everything was well organized.”
The flood, meanwhile, coincided with the Special Olympics Alberta summer games in town over the weekend. Fisher said athletes were forced to leave the golf course early on Saturday, but were able to finish competing Sunday.
The Devon golf course, situated near the Lion’s Campground, will remain open. Officials have no timetable on when they will lift the state of local emergency.
Fire Chief Robert Main said an individual was pulled upstream from the river on Saturday afternoon. No injuries were reported. Main said police have also spotted canoeists on the river. He urged the public to avoid the river valley parks and trails.
The North Saskatchewan River surrounds three sides of the town.
The town of Devon remains in a local state of emergency after officials confirmed flooding of the North Saskatchewan River at various sites.
Water has spilled into Voyageur Park, the Riverview Mountain Bike Skills Park, the Lion’s Campground and the river valley trail system. Road and trail access to the areas are closed until the water recedes to a safe level.
Devon Mayor Anita Fisher confirmed at a briefing Sunday afternoon that the water level in Devon has risen to more than 18 feet.
“The flow of the river is extremely fast and extremely treacherous,” Fisher said. “Even if you’re standing on the bank, we have extremely high cliffs in the Devon area and we want people to understand they can give way.”
The water level doesn’t have an impact on utilities until it reaches about 24 feet, giving the town breathing room, Fisher said.