Downtown Calgary evacuated

The City of Calgary has ordered an evacuation its entire downtown core -- an area where approximately 230,000 people work on a typical Friday.

Officials don't expect to have to relocate that many residents, however, as the majority of people didn't show up for work.

A large number of Calgary's neighbourhoods have already been evacuated due to rising floodwaters, which began spreading across the city on Thursday evening. An estimated 75,000 Calgarians have already been ordered to evacuate.

Flooding has also affected some of Calgary's well-known landmarks, including the Calgary Zoo and the Saddledome.

On its Facebook page, the Calgary Zoo said many of its animals were moved to higher grounds and only four creatures have been moved offsite: two pot-bellied pigs and two zebras.

Meanwhile, the 19,000-seat Saddledome -- the home ice of the Calgary Flames and a major site for the Calgary Stampede -- had water levels reach its 10th row of seats. The Stampede is scheduled to start two weeks from today.

Premier, PM to tour flooded areas

In addition to Calgary, more than a dozen towns across southern Alberta have declared states of emergency and some entire communities -- including High River and Bragg Creek -- were under mandatory evacuation orders.

Earlier Friday, Premier Alison Redford called on residents of flood-hit regions of the province to heed evacuation orders and head to higher ground, though she acknowledged it's not easy to abandon one's home.

"When that is asked, people really must leave, although it is an extremely difficult thing to do," she said, calling the flooding an "absolutely tragic situation."

Redford has pledged that the province will be there to help flood victims recover from the damage. She said she had also spoken to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who gave a similar promise that disaster relief will be forthcoming.

Harper's office confirmed Friday afternoon the prime minister was on his way to Calgary to tour the flood damage along with Redford.

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