Lower rainfall eases flood threat
With the town not getting as much rainfall as feared, and water levels on Rainy Lake expected to crest July 5, local emergency management is optimistic the provisions now in place will be enough to stop flooding along the waterfront here.
“Looking at the lake levels and where they’re sitting right now, even if we have a significant amount of rain, we do have the ability to manage the elevation at the [lake and river],” Fire Chief Frank Sheppard said this morning.
No one knows what the future will hold weather-wise, and the International Joint Commission still is projecting the water could rise anywhere from three inches to more than a foot by Saturday, but Chief Sheppard is optimistic the town is prepared.
“I think right now, we have a plan in place to manage whatever eventuality is out there,” he remarked.
“Now it’s a matter of filling in any of the gaps [that] could be problematic for us.”
Chief Sheppard said one issue right now is with the town losing catch basins.
“There is the possibility we’ll have to be able to manage the surface water,” he explained.
“We do have a plan related to that as far as being able to pump any surface water back into the river and manage that.
“But really, it’s now a matter of waiting and watching and seeing what happens with the weather,” Chief Sheppard added.
“We’re hoping for a long, dry spell to effectively fix the problem.”
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown noted water levels have been stabilizing.
The upper river went up seven millimeters on Saturday, dropped 26 mm by noon yesterday, and then was up again seven mm as of this early this morning.
The lake went up 13 mm on Saturday, dropped 14 mm yesterday, and then went back up 13 mm by early this morning.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Brown, adding the lake is predicted to crest July 5 at 338.838 metres (above sea level), which is 98 mm higher than it was this morning.
He noted once the water crests, it should come down quickly.
Karen Dykxhoorn of the Ministry Natural Resources confirmed the Fort Frances area got 9.4 mm of rain last night, with another 5.5 mm forecast through tomorrow.
But the rest of the week will see only minimal, if any, rain, although there will be high winds for a couple of days.
Meanwhile, Couchiching FN still is in danger of having to evacuate 12-16 homes, Coun. Christine Jourdain said this morning.
She noted a transformer and a Bell telecommunications pole possibly have been submerged.
If residents are in danger of losing power, or if they no longer have telephone and Internet, they will be moved to local hotels or, if necessary, a shelter.
Coun. Jourdain said one man has had to be evacuated from his home, which “is surrounded by the lake now.”
“There’s probably going to be no returning him home until we either remediate his home or find him a new place to live,” she added.
In related news, Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis cautioned Canada Day boaters that they should be aware there is no clearance under the CN bridge spanning the Ranier rapids.