Sunday, August 2, 2015

Town needs volunteers to fight possible flood

In response to data that the lake and upper river will rise 16 inches, or possibly even upwards of 24 inches, the local Emergency Management Group is jumping into action, and will soon be building a dyke along Front Street as a safeguard against possible flooding.
But they’ll need the public’s help to get it done.

“We’ve received some very disturbing news regarding lake levels and how they’re going to affect the upper river as well and there is an absolute risk to the community itself and the critical infrastructure along the riverfront and even into the main part of the town,” said Fire Chief Frank Sheppard.
He noted that while the group was aware Rainy Lake would rise in the near future, they weren’t sure how that increase would translate to the upper river.
“What we’re seeing, and what the information that we’ve received from the folks from the International Joint Commission says, is we should not this expect this to be a ‘slope’ system, but that it’s going to become a basin with the power dam now being the pinchpoint. [The river’s] going to rise on an equal level with the lake,” he added.
“That being said, areas along the riverfront are going to be at risk from flooding and it’s imperative we protect that piece of property,” noted Chief Sheppard.
And this is where the public comes in.
The potential flooding could have “such a negative impact on the critical infrastructure related to the sewage treatment plant, the storm sewers, all of those items, that we’re really going to be putting a plea out for people to come down to the command centre that’s right now located at the Rendez-Vous and identify themselves to the fire personnel that are there,” said Chief Sheppard.
“We’re looking for names and contact information for people that are going to help us sandbag and do some of that work,” noted Chief Sheppard.
“If you’re available to help us, we need your help,” he added. “The sooner we can get it, the better. We may not call on you immediately. We’re making all the preparations that we need to right now to ensure we can protect our assets.”
Those wanting to help also can call the town’s Emergency Call Centre phone at 274-1818 and leave their name and contact information, or they can go to the command site at La Place Rendez-Vous.
As of late today, emergency management was still determining the best method to create a barrier, whether it’s stacking sandbags or building a berm.
The fortifications will be built from the hospital down to Mosher Avenue. Work will start first at one of the lowest elevation points at the end of Crowe Avenue, and continue in both directions.
“The likelihood and the reality of this is we’re going to lose some shoreline, and we’re going to lose docks and other items that are in the lake. What we really need to focus on now is not so much trying to protect those things as let’s make sure our houses and homes are protected and people are protected,” said Chief Sheppard.
Town CAO Mark McCaig noted that the potential flood situation is serious, and all individuals should make preparations as it pertains to their respective households.
“Are we there yet? No. But I think that the mindset has to be: Start thinking about it,” he remarked.

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