There are rising flooding concerns in a number of communities in southern Saskatchewan.
Estevan and Weyburn are the latest communities to declare states of emergency as a result of Friday’s torrential downpour
Firefighters resorted to using a boat to move 30 people out of a trailer park on the outskirts of Weyburn early Saturday.
“In some cases, there was up to a foot of water in the trailers,” said Duane McKay, director of emergency response with Corrections, Public Safety and Policing during Saturday’s provincial flood update.
Numerous homeowners in Weyburn and surrounding areas are pumping out flooded basements.
“Some were reporting that their basement has two or three feet of water in it,” McKay said. “Some have seepage and some of it is sewer backup coming into the homes as well. It is pretty much what we would have seen in and around Yorkton about a year ago where large numbers of homes were impacted.”
He didn’t know how many southern Saskatchewan homes were affected by water damage.
Radville and Yellow Grass declared states of emergency on Friday as several homes in each community were flooding.
“Most of the areas are seeing water conditions similar to what we saw in the spring flooding,” McKay said. “There are lots of fields covered with water. Highways have been topped over and of course grid roads have been at risk as well.”
Weyburn’s sewage lift station hit capacity as a result of the rainfall.
“The pumps can’t keep up,” McKay said. “As a result of that, they have had some difficulties with the water system. They have a boil water advisory on now.”
Pumps are available at Weyburn’s fire station for residents to use.
“They’re using every pump that they have available including irrigation pumps, even fire trucks to pump water back into the river,” McKay said.
Between 50 and 75 millimetres of intense rain on Friday resulted in a quick run-off, said John Fahlman, the director of hydrology and groundwater services for the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA).
“What we have in this case is a landscape that is completely soggy and saturated with all of the depressions full so when you get a very intense rain like this, the only thing that’s stopping it from coming any faster is that our land is flat, so it’s as close to a flash flood as you ever get on the Prairies,” Fahlman said.
In response to the heavy rainfall, the SWA increased outflows from Rafferty and Boundary reservoirs to a minimum combined outflow of 300 cubic metres per second at noon on Saturday.
During the past 24 hours, combined inflows to the Rafferty and Boundary dams peaked at approximately 500 cubic metres per second.
The dams were used to significantly reduce flooding downstream, but the Rafferty reservoir is rapidly nearing its maximum level requiring that outflows be increased.
The SWA notified the City of Estevan, the village of Roche Percee, the RM of Estevan and the Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing of increased outflows and expected increases.
Water levels are expected to be higher than they were in the spring — by 75 centimetres to one metre, Fahlman said Saturday.
The Estevan Emergency Measures Committee issued an evacuation alert for Willow Park Greens trailer park on Saturday.
The Estevan Police Service and the Estevan Fire and Rescue Service are advising residents of the alert and providing instructions to follow in the event of an evacuation order.
If evacuation is necessary, police and fire vehicles will go to the trailer park and sound sirens to alert residents who will be asked to report to the multi-purpose room at the Souris Valley Leisure and Aquatic Centre.
Residents can call the Estevan EMO emergency line at 306-634-1855, but should refrain from calling the Estevan police for information to prevent tying up the emergency lines.
Updates will be posted to the City of Estevan’s website (www.estevan.ca).
“Earlier in the spring, some of these areas that are currently at risk were at risk then, so we’re sending down equipment that might be able to mitigate the damage or cordon off an area so it doesn’t get flooded,” McKay said.
Residents are advised to take precautions, such as moving items out of basements and storing them in rubber totes.
“It’s prudent for people to plan for worse-case scenarios and then if it’s not that bad, then certainly your planning helped to mitigate the impact,” McKay said.
Five sections of highway are closed in southern Saskatchewan because of the high water level.
The closures are:
Highway 39, from the Junction of Highway 6 to Weyburn;
Highway 350 from the Junction of Highway 18 to the U.S. border;
Highway 18, west of Oungre;
Highway 58 between Gravelbourg and Shamrock; and
Highway 36, north of Willowbunch.
The heavy rainfall spelled trouble for the University of Regina on Friday. Sewers backed up at the U of R’s main and College Avenue campuses. The main campus re-opened at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the College Avenue is expected to re-open on Monday morning.