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Floods submerge Saskatchewan communities

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

June 22, 2011 — Flood threat not yet over in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Highway 47 is closed due to unsafe conditions
Highway 47 is closed due to unsafe conditions

Heavy rain continues to soak parts of southeastern Saskatchewan, leaving several communities completely waterlogged.

A viewer photo submitted to The Weather Network shows deep floodwater surrounding homes in the village of Roche Percee. The village issued an evacuation order on Saturday for the small community of about 150 people. Residents say the streets were flooded Sunday after a dike breach on the Souris River.

The heavy rain and flood waters have caused several roads and highways to crumble across the region. Highway 56 north of Indian Head fell apart on Tuesday and the Trans-Canada Highway near Sintaluta was closed Monday due to rushing water.

Officials expect water levels to rise even further and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority says it has no other choice but to release more water from two dams in the region. Authorities say the watershed is completely saturated from spring runoff and rain.

Rain totals in Estevan since May 1
Rain totals in Estevan since May 1

Last Friday, officials were forced to increase outflows from dams as heavy rain caused flash flooding in Weyburn. The city declared a state of emergency and several people have been forced from their homes.

Weyburn Mayor Debra Button is urging residents to be cautious and prepared.

“No one wants to abandon their home but you have to keep your personal safety and the safety of your family in mind. If water levels in your basement start to approach your electrical box, you will face serious electrical hazards. Please err on the side of caution and get to the shelter before the water gets to that level,” said Button.

People in Estevan have been battling flood waters since late last week as well. Officials say peak water levels may have passed in Estevan, but that doesn't mean the worst is over.

Kim Marshall lives in a small rural community just east of the city and she says getting around is next to impossible.

“In order to get to a road that's not under water, we have to go north to end up going south of town. A lot of people we know have lost homes and people have been evacuated from a trailer park in Estevan...If we get much more rain, we're going to be stuck, we're not going to be able to get to town.”

The city has already seen close to a year's worth of rainfall since May 1.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says it's not yet known how much it will cost the government to relieve the affected communities. He says the provincial disaster assistance program receives help from the federal government.

With files from Lisa Varano

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