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Saskatchewan readies for possible heavy flooding

Submerged fields from summer 2010.
Submerged fields from summer 2010.

Jill Colton, staff writer

April 8, 2011 — Preparations are underway to help the people of Saskatchewan deal with the possibility of heavy flooding.

The higher-than-average run-off could result in flooding.
The higher-than-average run-off could result in flooding.

The latest spring forecast by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) indicates there's a higher-than-average run-off expected in the province's agricultural areas.

Regina is now included in the highest-risk zone, which runs south of Hudson Bay and Melfort, past Weyburn and as far east as Wynyard.

So far, the gradual melt has helped the situation says The Authority's John Fahlman. However, they're not sure how long the favourable conditions will last. “...we're watching the weather just like everybody else.”

To prepare, the province is moving around more of the $22 million dedicated to the Emergency Flood Damage Reduction Program.

So far nine communities in the Humboldt area have been given $300,000 to set up protective measures including sandbags and construction of berms and culverts.

According to the SWA, more than 500 applications have come in and 200 of those individuals are looking to protect farm properties.

The Highways Ministry is also anticipating the effects of a higher than usual run-off.

“We're being ready to deploy workers from other parts of the province if need be and keeping lists and getting equipment ready if there is a flooding issue,” explains Minister Jim Reiter.

Extra supplies and equipment including steaming units to thaw out frozen culverts have been ordered.

A list of contractors and equipment has been put together to make coordination efforts quicker and more efficient.

Additionally, emergency trailers have been sent out all across the province.

According to the Ministry, the major area of concern is the south-west. Last year's rainfall lead to a rush of water that washed out half of Highway One near Maple Creek.

Meanwhile in Manitoba, a flood bulletin has been issued. This indicates that overland flooding is already underway in some agricultural areas.

The river crest is expected to occur in late April or early May.

In order to protect lives and property from an above-average flood, Manitoba's government has recruited Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) air ambulance.

With files from 650 CKOM

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