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Oldman River floods homes in Fort Macleod and district

kayak matt schwindt

Matt Schwindt used a kayak Friday afternoon to reach the Tillsleys’ home, which was surrounded by flood water

Tillsleys kayak flood water

Kim Tillsley, Nick Tillsley and Matt Schwindt used kayaks to haul a boat loaded with a sump pump to the Tillsleys’ home.

The Oldman River poured over its banks Thursday and flooded River Valley Wilderness Park in Fort Macleod — just a little later than anticipated.
River Valley Wilderness Park started flooding about 10:30 p.m. Thursday and soon poured over Highway 811, forcing officials to close the road.
“This is what I expected yesterday afternoon,” Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said Friday morning as he surveyed the flooding.
Fort Macleod officials had expected the river to flood earlier Thursday when the flow increased to 2,000 cubic metres per minute from 900 cubic metres.
Knowing the high water was coming, town officials notified people in the approximately 40 residences in the river valley Thursday morning about the possiblity of a flood.
Patience decided at 3:20 p.m. Thursday to declare a state of emergency in Fort Macleod, and a second notification went out to residents living along the Oldman River.
“Thankfully, we let everybody know twice, well in advance,” Patience said.
Some residents heeded the warning, loading as many personal belongings as possible and leaving their homes.
Some people decided to stay put and ride out the flooding at their homes.
Patience said the town warned people to anticipate a flood at levels somewhere between the levels of the floods of 1995 and 2005.
“We’re told it’s receding now,” Patience said Friday morning.
The Tillsleys stayed put on their acreage on the Oldman River just west of Highway 2.
“We stayed to see if there was anything we could do,” Kim Tillsley said Friday. “If it got too bad we could have climbed onto the roof.”
At noon Friday Tillsley, his son Nick and family friend Matt Schwindt were transporting a large sump pump across the water by kayak and boat.
The three men piloted kayaks and pulled a boat loaded with the sump pump.
Tillsley said the flood did not compare in any way to the 1995 flood, or even one as far back as 1975.
Patience expressed concern for places such as Calgary, High River, Canmore and Bragg Creek, which were hit much harder than Fort Macleod by flooding.
“This is bad here but there are places that are definitely worse,” Patience said.

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