James West

James West

Senior Producer, Mother Jones/Climate Desk

James West is senior producer for Mother Jones and its reporting project Climate Desk. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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Flooded Calgary Warned the Worst Is Yet to Come

| Fri Jun. 21, 2013 2:47 PM EDT
Twitter user @ShaneKeller posts a photo of the Calgary Zoo almost completely underwater. @ShaneKeller/Twitter

Flood waters from two rivers that converge on the Canadian city of Calgary have paralyzed mass transit, shuttered downtown, and closed schools, as thousands received emergency evacuation notices yesterday and this morning. And locals are being told the worst floods in decades are not over yet. "We are still expecting that the worst has not yet come in terms of the flow," Mayor Naheed Nenshi told CBC News on Friday.

You can find a helpful map of the most affected areas here. There have been no reports of fatalities.

In the last 48 hours, more than six inches of rain have fallen in the Calgary area alone, and CBC is reporting that more is on its way, with the highest amounts expected west of Calgary.  The city reports that the Elbow River crested this morning and water levels in Bow River are expected to remain extremely high for several days. That has prompted nearly a dozen emergency warnings of flash flooding, burst banks, and overflowed dams in the province. All Calgarians have been asked by local authorities to refrain from non-essential travel. Locals are also being encouraged to boil their water in seven Calgary communities to stop the spread of infection. According to the officials, 1500 people have sought out emergency shelters across the city.

Fast-moving debris from the flood also ruptured a pipeline carrying "sour gas"—a stinky, toxic gas comprised of one percent hydrogen sulfide that can be deadly if inhaled—in Alberta's Turner Valley, prompting further evacuations. Crews have reportedly contained the leak.

Calgary flooding
Flooded Calgary streets after torrential rainfall caused two rivers to overrun their banks, forcing the evacuation of thousands. Bandit Queen/Flickr

Flooding has also forced the closure of the last two days of the Sled Island music festival, which featured more than 250 bands plus comedy, film and art events at 30 local venues, and stranded its organizers in a generator-powered Calgary hotel. "It is a huge disappointment for all of us for sure, because we've been working so hard to put this together," said Maud Salvi, the event director, by phone. "I think we're just all trying to accept the fact that there's nothing we can do." Logistics are being complicated by wide-spread power outages at venues across the city,

Twitter user Connor Deering seemed to sum up some of the Canadian spirit in the face of adversity: "Since the city is shut down, may as well just start drinking". You can see the power of the flood waters from Thursday in this supercut: 

Fri May. 9, 2014 6:07 PM EDT
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