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Monday, May 06, 2013

Flooding spreads in Saskatchewan - emergencies declared in three more communities


Two First Nations and a rural municipality have been added to the list of Saskatchewan communities under flood emergencies. 

The James Smith First Nation, the Cowessess First Nation and the regional municipality of Fish Creek bring the total number of communities that have declared emergencies to 13. 

"We're still seeing in the rural areas significant impact to infrastructure such as roads either overtopping or having to be cut, so most of the rural municipalities are still facing some challenges," Duane McKay, Saskatchewan's commissioner of emergency management, said Saturday. 

Highway 3, just west of Spiritwood, was closed Saturday because of flooding. 
Meanwhile, the Water Security Agency said sandbagging and other efforts to keep the water out of the town of Radisson, northwest of Saskatoon, were holding. 

The agency said the good news is that water levels appear to be going down a little around Radisson. 

"With the snow cover there being decreased and it seems it's calming a little bit and we're hoping that we've seen the worst of that situation," said agency spokesman Patrick Boyle. 

"The town has done a lot of mitigation work to facilitate the flow of water away from the community in Radisson." 

Almost all of the 73 people who had to leave their houses on the Poundmaker First Nation have been allowed to go home. However, a boil water order remained in place Saturday for the reserve, northwest of North Battleford. 

About 200 people on the Onion Lake Cree Nation, north of Lloydminster, remain on alert to leave if water there rises. 

Further south, the Water Security Agency is keeping an eye on the Qu'Appelle River watershed, including Wascana Creek, which runs through Regina. 

"This is sort of the developing situation and we're kind of waiting for the water to show up, as is everyone else," said Boyle. 

"There's still pretty significant snow cover in that area and we're expecting more flows to increase here over the weekend, with the peak coming next week some time. So, we're still waiting for that to happen." 

Wascana Lake, in the centre of the city, is expected to reach 571.8 metres. That's higher than the flood level in 2011, but lower than the record flood of 572.2 metres reached in 1974. 

The city of Regina has put thousands of sandbags and other water barriers along sections of the creek to protect homes. 

Flooding has already led to the evacuation of a youth detention centre in Regina because of concerns about a bridge over Wascana Creek leading to the facility. Another bridge on the western edge of Regina was closed Friday due to rising water levels on the creek. 

Regina city officials have sent letters to 340 homes advising residents to be ready for an evacuation by packing a kit with medication and cash and by moving valuables to higher floors. 

But the city also said the potential for Wascana Creek to flood homes is extremely small. 

There was more snow than normal in many areas of Saskatchewan this winter and colder-than-normal temperatures this spring delayed the melt. 

The Water Security Agency has warned that the entire southern half of the province will see run-off levels above or well-above normal. It said run-off is expected to be very high and flooding is likely to occur from Moose Jaw to Indian Head, including Regina, and south past Weyburn to near the United States border. Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford are also in the red zone.
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