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Updated: Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:53:24 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Alberta flooding: Voluntary evacuation issued in Claresholm



Water pours through the Oldman Dam in southern Alberta as the area prepares for major rainfall and flooding. CBC

Water pours through the Oldman Dam in southern Alberta as the area prepares for major rainfall and flooding. CBC

Officials with the Town of Claresholm, an hour southeast of Calgary, are asking some residents to leave their homes because of overland flooding.

- LIVE BLOG | Alberta flooding 2014: Updates from the field

The sewer system is also backing up and some homes are under water. An evacuation centre has been set up at the Claresholm arena for any residents affected by the flooding.

Schools in the town are also closed, except for students writing diploma exams. Parents are asked to take those students to the arena, where buses will pick them up and take them to their schools.

The Blood Reserve, 233 kilometres southeast of Calgary, joined the list of communities declaring a state of local emergency late Tuesday. 

- Municipal District of Willow Creek.

- Crowsnest Pass.

- Lethbridge County.

- City of Medicine Hat.

The threat of flooding is expected to continue through Wednesday as Environment Canada issued another rainfall warning early in the morning for parts of southern Alberta.

- Environment  Canada | Public Weather Alerts for Alberta

Environment Canada says a low-pressure system is expected to bring up to 70 millimetres of rain Wednesday in the southwestern foothills before tapering off Thursday morning. The total rainfall in that area may exceed 200 millimetres.

Further north and east, 40 to 60 millimetres have been recorded.

Less overall rain than expected

The rainfall warnings for Kananaskis and Canmore have ended, but several areas are still expecting heavy rain:

- Brooks, Strathmore and Vulcan.

- Cardston, Fort Macleod and Magrath.

- Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek and Waterton.

- Lethbridge, Taber and Milk River.

- Okotoks, High River and Claresholm.

The rainfall warnings do not include Calgary.

But provincial government flood forecasters say much less rain fell overnight than expected.

"While overnight there were some pockets of very intense precipitation and there has been some localized flooding, the rainfall has not lived up to expectations. It significantly less than we had predicted," said Katrina Bluetchen of Alberta Environment.

In Cardston, there are reports that Lee's Creek has overflowed and low-lying areas are beginning to flood. People in Coalhurst are also experiencing flooded basements and sewer backups. 

Lethbridge County says water levels in the Oldman River are extremely high and could rise to 1995 flood levels.

Albertans living in the Oldman River Valley are being told to anticipate a potential evacuation Wednesday, and to move any livestock in the area to higher ground.

"We've been making sandbags, at our city operations centre, and we've been protecting the city assets and preparing to protect residential areas," said Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman.

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