Flooding hits close to home - Regina Leader-Post

03:18 May 4 2011 Yorkton, Saskatchewan

Bob Bjornerud went from dealing with weather-related disasters in government to overseeing a disaster in his own backyard.

"You sure see both sides when it happens to you," he said.

Bjornerud, the minister of agriculture, and MLA for Melville-Saltcoats, said his farm east of Yorkton was hit hard by spring runoff and a weekend snowstorm.

"In my yard here we have 10 acres and I would guess there is probably 9 1 ?2 under water," said Bjornerud. "I have to stay home because we are trying to save our basement."

For Bjornerud, spending day and night fighting to save his basement highlighted the need for disasterrelief programs.

He noted the $22 million set aside at the beginning of the year for the Emergency Flood Damage Reduction Program to protect home and permanent structures against flood damage. Bjornerud said more assistance may be made available but that such weather-related disasters are sometimes beyond the government's control.

"I live in a farming community and I think we always have that attitude that we'll get through it," he said. "We've done it before and we'll get through it again."

Despite the water lapping up against his house, Bjornerud said he's luckier than others.

"It's one of those things that could be a lot worse," said Bjornerud. "I was down in the valley last week at Crooked Lake and Round Lake and they have got some bad situations down there."

Trevor Crozier spent the entire weekend fighting to save his cabin at Grenfell Beach on Crooked Lake, a place his family has been going to for over 30 years.

"I'm not sure if shocking is even the right word," said Crozier. "It's something I've never imagined."

When Crozier received a notice that water was going to be released into Crooked Lake, he planned to start piling thousands of sandbags the next day. The water ended up rising approximately 26 inches in only 24 hours.

"That's when we knew we were in big trouble," he said.

When the power went out for 58 hours on the weekend, Crozier's sump pump stopped working and his utility room flooded.

"It's emotionally draining for lots of people," he said. "One of the families there lost their place in the storm even after sandbagging and putting up big water berms."

Crozier still considers himself one of the lucky ones.

"I've lost quite a bit of landscaping which, in the big picture, is pretty minimal," he said. "There are people that have lost cottages and I don't know what kind of disaster assistance they're going to get."

Doug Johnson of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority said it has been watching the Qu'Appelle River system very closely. Water levels rose three centimetres from Monday.

A section of the westbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway 14 kilometres east of Grenfell was closed Tuesday due to potential culvert failure and water flowing onto the road. The eastbound lanes accommodated two-way traffic for the day and the westbound lanes were expected to reopen last night.

At Grenfell Beach, they expect to see local streams pick up in the area because of the snowfall.

"There is a handful of us left that are fighting it," said Crozier. "It's devastating. It's tough to see the emotions of the people that are there that did lose everything. You want to say, 'Good morning,' but it's not a good morning. There hasn't been a good morning out there in three weeks."
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