Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prairies flood fears see no relief

Prairies flood fears see no relief

City of Regina workers pile onto a dyke along the south side of Wascana Creek in Regina on Monday.

More than 1,000 people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been forced from their homes as flood waters continue to rise, with concerns that the Assiniboine and Red rivers could crest at the same time in Winnipeg.

Both are expected to crest in late April to early May, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said.

The number of evacuees has risen to nearly 800 in Manitoba, with almost 600 provincial and municipal roads affected by flooding and 32 municipalities under states of emergency.

Wagstaffe said the Red and Assiniboine are now virtually ice-free, but that water levels are rising as crest dates approach.

Manitoba officials say about 700 provincial staff are working on the flood response across the province, as well as municipal staff, private contractors and non-government agencies such as the Salvation Army, Mennonite Disaster Service and the Red Cross.

Steve Ashton, Manitoba's emergency measures minister, says the province will be wrestling with the legacy of this year's flood long after its rivers crest and the water drenching much of the province recedes.
Damage expected to total at least $70M

Water levels are at least as high as they were in 2009 — the second-worst flood season in the last 150 years.

That flood caused $70 million in damage and this year is expected to be just as costly.

Ashton says water levels will cause problems well into May. He says cottage owners and residents will have to remain vigilant and keep an eye on wind that has the potential to whip up swollen lakes.

In Saskatchewan, 15 communities have declared states of emergencies and more than 440 people on two First Nations have been forced from their homes.

Lynn Acoose, chief of the Sakimay First Nation, says some roads are inundated and many homes are waterlogged. She also says there's concern that wells and cisterns people use for drinking water may have become contaminated.

Cool temperatures have saved a lot of communities from worst-case scenarios. Wagstaffe warned, however, that temperatures are expected to rise and there is still some snowpack left to melt.

The province's Watershed Authority says the City of Regina can expect water levels in Wascana Lake to peak by the end of the week.