Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Prairie farmers tackle flooding

Water sloshes around Jace Brown’s waist as he walks through his farmyard in the far southeastern corner of Saskatchewan, near the village of Carievale.
Brown’s land was submerged when a deluge of rain over the weekend caused widespread flooding in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.

“We’re surrounded here,” Brown said yesterday. “We got a lot of stuff flooded out.”
He said he thinks communities cut through roads to ease flooding north of his land and that sent water south.
“It just pushed it all in here so fast that the bridge south of here couldn’t take it,” Brown noted.
Everything is under water except his house, which was saved because people in the community rallied to build a sandbag wall.
Carievale, population 250, was one of two Saskatchewan communities that remained cut-off yesterday. Access also was lost to the village of Gainsborough, population 300.
People in both communities had been urged to leave earlier in the week.
Colin King, Saskatchewan’s deputy commissioner of emergency management, said roads to Gainsborough were “totally impassable,” but that was only part of the problem.
“As well, many, many, many of the homes there were severely impacted with overland flooding,” King said yesterday.
“There would be basements with a lot of water in them. There could be sewage back-up.”
Emergency officials warned water levels still were rising in many areas of the southeast.
Flooding still was a threat to the hospital in Melville, Sask., about 145 km northwest of Regina.
A rising creek behind the facility led to a full-scale evacuation Tuesday of more than 150 acute-care patients and long-term residents.
Patrick Boyle, with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, said there will be “significant peaks” in water systems as the flood moves downstream, especially in the Lower Qu’Appelle River watershed, which extends from Regina to the Manitoba boundary.
“We’re very concerned about Round and Crooked Lakes in the Qu’Appelle system,” said Boyle.
“These lakes are rising and we should see the peaks moving through over the next few days.”
Nearly 90 municipalities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have declared states of emergency.
The Saskatchewan government estimated more than 300 people were out of their homes in that province while in Manitoba, high water had forced some 500 people to flee.
Manitoba Emergency Measures minister Steve Ashton said at least 17 streams and rivers in his province were at historic levels.
He added the province is using every flood-fighting tool available, including the Red River Floodway which diverts water around Winnipeg.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was scheduled to tour the hardest hit areas yesterday.
He said earlier that early estimates show the “unprecedented rainstorm and flooding” could cost more than the 2011 flood because it’s so widespread.
That flood cost the province $360 million.

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