Lisa Varano and Alexandra Pope, staff writers
June 28, 2011 — Spring floods have turned into summer floods in the Prairies and are once again threatening homes and businesses.
Almost 3,000 Manitobans will spend the Canada Day weekend displaced from their homes because of the flooding.
Unfortunately, experts believe much of the high water will continue well into summer.
65 more homes were evacuated in Souris Tuesday morning as record-setting levels on the Souris River creep towards western Manitoba. This just days after swamping 4,000 homes in Minot, North Dakota.
In the Town of Souris, people who live along the river and its tributary, Plum Creek, have been asked to evacuate. Crews are tearing down decks and felling 100-year-old trees in order to build a new dike stretching more than a kilometre in length.
“Due to the rising waters coming up from Minot...the dikes that we had in place and thought were high enough after the spring episode are now not going to be good enough, so we're building those up,” said Souris Mayor, Darryl Jackson. “I'd like to have as much, if not all of our preparations as possible done by Saturday.”
Jackson adds that since a lot of the preparations are done with heavy machinery, it's important that residents are out of the way to avoid any accidents. A variety of accommodations have been set up while flood preparations are underway.
“It's stressful times, there's no doubt about that,” said Jackson on Monday.
Volunteers are also building up dikes in Melita, southeast of Souris. Mayor Bob Walker said the coming crest is expected to be higher than it was in the spring. Two businesses have been evacuated as a precaution, and residents of a trailer court have been warned they may have to leave at a moment's notice.
“We're very confident that what we're doing is the right thing,” Walker said. ”Hopefully we'll ... be correct.”
Across the Prairies, the short-term forecast calls for stormy weather in areas that have been struggling with damaging floods for months. There is a thunderstorm risk from Alberta to Manitoba over the next couple of days. Some severe storms hit southern Manitoba on Saturday, bringing heavy downpours of up to 75 mm of rain to places already struggling with flooding.
The same moist, unstable air mass first caused severe storms and a tornado warning in Saskatchewan.
In the United States, the Souris River crested at Minot, North Dakota Sunday – earlier and lower than expected, The Associated Press reported.
The river peaked at about seven feet above flood stage – several feet lower than was initially forecast.
North Dakota's National Guard said the water level appeared to be stabilizing, although it is forecast to remain high for another few days.
The Souris has broken a 130-year-old water level record and flooded thousands of evacuated homes in Minot, south of the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border.
With files from the Canadian Press, Andrea Stockton and Jill Colton.