Tuesday October 21, 2014

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Warmer and drier conditions help with flooding

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Krystyn Gillies

A bridge south of Gainsborough has over run by water due to the flooding in southeast Saskatchewan.

Communities in the far southeast corner of the province have received some weather-related relief, after substantial rainfall resulted in widespread flooding.

Heavy rains started on June 27, and continued in some places until late on the 30th. Some areas reported that they received up to 200 millimetres, or more than eight inches, of rain – equivalent to nearly two-thirds of their annual rainfall.

The rain finally relented late on June 30. The skies cleared up and the temperatures increased, bringing a little relief to the waterlogged region.

Sixty-eight Saskatchewan municipalities were in a state of emergency, as of 11 a.m. on June 3, including the towns of Redvers and Carnduff; the villages of Storthoaks, Gainsborough, Alida and Carievale; and the Rural Municipalities of Argyle, Antler, Reciprocity, Mount Pleasant and Storthoaks.

Colin King, the deputy manager of emergency management and fire safety with the Ministry of Government Relations, said that some communities in the southeast corner could be among the first to transition to the recovery and clean-up phase, as water flows are receding.

Gainsborough is under an evacuation order. The heavy rains turned Saskatchewan's oldest incorporated village into a virtual ghost town.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the village during the evening hours of June 29, and residents were still away from their homes as of noon on July 3.

People could remain at their homes if they wanted, but Deanna Wysoskey noted that only four chose to stay. Wysoskey said that they know who those people are, and where they live.

The bulk of the village's inhabitants – about 250 people – opted to heed the evacuation order.

The majority of the evacuees are now in Carnduff. Some are staying with friends or family members. Others are camping out on Carnduff residents' front laws or driveways.

"There are some other Gainsborough residents who are camping in nearby regional campgrounds, and we also have three elderly couples from Gainsborough who are staying in hotels," said Wysoskey.

The Ministry of Social Services has also been distributing grocery vouchers to displaced Gainsborough residents.

It's too early to know when the evacuated residents will be allowed to return, she said.

"That will depend upon when the town is deemed safe for habitation again, when people have all their services and infrastructure back, and the town decides that it's safe for everyone to return," said Wysoskey.

King said the community has suffered extensive damage. Roads are virtually unusable.

"Many, many, many of the homes there were severely impacted with overland flooding," said King. "There would be basements with a lot of water in them, there could be sewage backup. If individuals are on a well, or if there's water treatment, there might be impacts like that."

Gainsborough residents represent the majority of the people in Saskatchewan forced to leave by the flooding.

Long-term care residents at the Gainsborough Health Centre have also been affected. The residents were first transported away from the health centre to the community hall.

After specific arrangements were made, two residents were moved to Moose Mountain Lodge in Carlyle, four went to Sunset Haven in Carnduff and six were transferred to the Weyburn Special Care Home.

The other four residents were able to stay with their families on a temporary basis.

Wysoskey said Social Services has been helping a family in Alida whose home was destroyed, and need to relocate.

We're working with them to find the most appropriate place for them to relocate to,” said Wysoskey.

Flooding has also forced the closure of numerous stretches of highways. The closed highways in the southeast corner, as of July 3, were:

*Highway 13 from Carlyle to Redvers;

*Highway 18 from the junction with Highway 9 to the Manitoba border;

*Highway 318 from the junction with Highway 18 to the junction with Highway 361;

*Highway 361 from the junction with Highway 318 to the Manitoba border;

Various portions of Highway 8 from the U.S. border to Redvers have been closed, but as of the afternoon of July 3, those closures had been lifted. Highway 13 from Redvers to the Manitoba border also opened on July 3, after it was closed for about five days.

Doug Wakabayashi from the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure said that Highway 8 was suffering from rough spots and shoulder erosion, while Highway 13 had shoulder erosion, too.

One of the conditions motorists need to be aware of is sharp drops off the side of the road,” said Wakabayashi.

The Storthoaks access road is also open now, thanks to the installation of a temporary bridge. Temporary bridges will also be added to Highway 13 east of Redvers and Highway 18 near the Manitoba border.

A lot of the work we're doing is taking the forms of temporary repairs, so things like temporary bridges, some gravelling and blading and things like that, to repair washouts,” said Wakabayashi.

Motorists can expect rough and soft spots that will required reduced speeds, Wakabayashi said.

Water is receding from the roads, but they don't have a timeline for when closed highways will reopen, Wakabayashi said.

"We have deployed engineers and we are in the process of assessing damage and developing a plan of attack for affecting repairs," said Wakabayashi.

Redvers and Carievale were listed as isolated due to the highway closures, but Wakabayashi said there is now access to those communities.

Patrick Boyle with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) said the heavy rain caused water to flow over the Redvers Dam – a small structure located north of the town.

"The reports coming … are that the dam level there is dropping," said Boyle. "It's still flowing over the top of the dam … and that's where the concern comes in, when you get over topping of any structure, you can weaken it."

Boyle noted that the amount of water that fell on the Redvers area was "unprecedented."

Water is being released from Alameda Dam. Releases were increased from three cubic metres of water per second (m3/s) to 30 m3/s on July 2.

"It shouldn't cause a lot of issues downstream," said Boyle.

Please continue to visit www.sasklifestyles.com for updates on the flooding

 

 

 


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