Saturday November 22, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Communities shift to flood recovery

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Highway 8 south of Redvers is among the many highways adversely affected by flooding.

Brian Dangstorp has never seen so much rain in Redvers.

Dangstorp is the town's mayor and a life-long resident. The torrential rains that struck southeast Saskatchewan in late June dumped about nine inches of rain on the community, he said, and the damage was more extensive than anticipated.

"You don't know that (the extent of the damage) until you see the lawns, and water heaters and furniture are sitting out there," said Dangstorp.

The water blew out three portions of the railway tracks that cut through the town.

"In 1985, we had a lot of rain, and it didn't do that," said Dangstorp.

Two years ago, the town received about 4 1/2 inches of rain in about a three hour span, he said. Fifty-two houses were damaged. Even more houses sustained water damage this time. Numerous farms have also been negatively affected.

But Dangstorp is pleased with how the residents have handled the adversity. Redvers was declared an isolated community early on in the flooding, when most of the highways that lead in and out of the community were closed.

Many grid roads were also shut down because they were under water.

Highway 9 between Redvers and Carlyle was still closed as of the morning of July 9, and temporary bridges were needed on Highway 13 east of Redvers, and Highway 8 south of the town, to open them up again.

Dangstorp said his community, like so many others in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, will need provincial and federal financial assistance during the recovery process. 

Carnduff Mayor Ross Apperley said the town was also hit hard by the flooding, but he described the situation as "manageable." Water encroached into some people's yards and into the streets; other residents had flooded basements and sewer back-ups.

The west side of Anderson Avenue, between Fifth Street and Sixth Street, had to be torn out.

Apperly estimates that the town received seven to eight inches of rain, but it's hard to determine. 

"Most gages only go to five or six inches, and then they overflow," said Apperley.

He recalls seeing lots of water in the town during the floods of 1969, but nothing like what they received this time.

The town's emergency measures organization (EMO) coordinator, Kris Carley, worked long hours in the days following the rains. Others at the EMO worked hard, too, Apperley said.

Residents handled the situation well, Apperley said. They made sandwiches at the EMO centre, and stacked sandbags at the town well site. A group of young people went from farm to farm to build sandbag walls, and then went to Carnduff's cement plant.

"They bagged a thousand bags, and put them on pallets and trailers, ready to go somewhere," Apperley said.

A regional flood recovery centre opened in the town on July 8, and was slated to remain open through July 11. Representatives from numerous government and non-government agencies were on hand to answer questions from flood victims.


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