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Roche Percee community deep under water

18:15 Jun 20 2011 Roche Percee, Saskatchewan

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In terms of flood misery per capita, it would be hard to beat the tiny town of Roche Percee in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan.

Following a weekend of heavy rains and a release of water from major dams in the area, much of the village of 147 people is under water.

The village, which is built in a valley, had survived several recent waves of water from the overflowing Souris River, but what happened Sunday proved too much.

Water started flowing over the dikes at around 7:30 a.m. CST Sunday. Much of the town was evacuated.

By Monday morning, the lowest areas were under as much as seven metres of water, according to Sharon Wells, the village's deputy mayor.

Looking around the village today, she said, she felt like crying.

"I can't begin to imagine how the people down on the bottom feel," she said. "Some were new homes, some they've been there for 40 years and its just uncomprehensible. I don't know. No words to decribe it."

The community about 25 kilometres east of Estevan is more than a century old. It's hard to imagine how it can recover from a disaster of this magnitude, Wells said.

Wells lives on higher ground and her home wasn't wrecked, but roughly 47 out of 63 homes were flooded, she said.

"I can't see a lot of them rebuilding," she said. "Insurance really doesn't cover everything."

Some people were trying to get to their homes by boat Monday to salvage things, but the current was just too strong, she said.


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Dikes protecting Roche Percee broke on the weekend, flooding at least two-thirds of the homes. Sheryl Rennie/CBC
People in the community are angry, she said. Some are upset with the village, saying it didn't do enough to prepare people, while some blame the province for releasing water from dam reservoirs upstream.

Still others are upset that the news media hasn't reported more on what is happening, she said.

The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority has been releasing water from Estevan area dams in recent weeks because the dams are full.

The amount of water coming out of the Boundary and Rafferty dams is now about 630 cubic metres per second — enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in about four seconds.

Because there was more than 100 millimetres of rain in some areas over the weekend, more releases may be needed in the days ahead, the watershed authority said.
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