UPDATED – Friday July 4, 2014 – 1:30 p.m. CST
Saskatchewan won’t be declaring a provincial state of emergency as Manitoba did earlier today as both provinces work to assist residents and assess damage following a destructive rainfall last weekend.
Manitoba’s provincial state of emergency affects Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley.
The province is warning residents to prepare for flood water exceeding 2011 levels.
“We need to be able to take action to protect the safety, health and welfare of Manitobans,” said Manitoba premier Greg Selinger in a media release.
“Declaring a provincial state of emergency will allow us to take steps quickly to protect people and property in the area.”
The Manitoba government has also requested assistance from the Canadian military as it reels from a massive rainfall that brought in excess of 240 millilitres to eastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Many areas in both provinces had already received record rainfalls through the spring before last weekend’s event, and water flowing in from across the border is compounding the problem.
“The situation does not require federal assistance, so we’re stable,” said Duane McKay, head of emergency management for Saskatchewan.
Officials reported today that water flows in many affected areas in Saskatchewan are declining, with the exception of the Qu’Appelle lakes.
“Manitoba also receives all of our water and a large amount of water from North Dakota, so they’re sort of at the end of the pipe,” said McKay.
Speaking to Reuters, Brenda Tjaden Lepp, chief analyst at FarmLink Marketing Solutions, estimated the floods ruined one million acres of crops.
The rain may have killed six million acres of crops across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, with about 4.4 million of those in Saskatchewan, analyst Larry Weber of Weber Commodities told Reuters. Another 2.1 million acres weren’t planted at all due to bad weather, he said.
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation has declined to estimate damage to farmers’ fields.
Jim Russell of the Saskatchewan agriculture ministry said provincial officials have received calls about stranded livestock in the Qu’Appelle area.
“Regional staff are working to co-ordinate with producers the best way to get the cattle feed or move the cattle to another area,” he said.
In Saskatchewan, officials report that efforts are moving on to recovery, although 75 communities and First Nations were in a state of emergency as of today.
Fifty-six communities have received designation under the province’s Provincial Disaster Assistance Program.
Residents of Gainsborough who had been evacuated now have access to the community, but without water and sewer service they are still staying in neighbouring communities.
A number of highways in southeastern Saskatchewan remain closed, but highway officials reported that temporary fixes to many damaged roads in southeastern Saskatchewan were progressing, assisting local traffic, although a section of Highway 1 near Wolseley was closed again today because of water running over the road.
A recovery centre has been established in Melville, where area residents can access provincial health, disaster and agriculture officials in one location. It will be open until Sunday.
McKay said centres may be established in other communities, including Carnduff, Moosomin, Broadview, Esterhazy, Balcarres and Yorkton, as recovery progresses.
Warm weather is forecasted for the affected regions in Saskatchewan, and officials are monitoring rising waters on Crooked Lake and Round Lake and the threat of thunderstorms in the province.
“That is not a welcome thing. There’s very little we can do about it so we’re ramping up to ensure that we’re ready to respond to any issues that might present to us,” said McKay.
UPDATED – Thursday July 3, 2014 – 2:30 p.m. CST
Sunny skies are a good sign as communities in eastern Saskatchewan begin recovery following last weekend’s massive rainfall.
A forecast for eastern Saskatchewan that includes temperatures in the high 20s C will help recovery and assistance efforts after some parts of the province received as much as 240 millimetres of rain on the weekend, said officials.
“We are seeing some stabilization of the water flows through those particular areas,” said Duane McKay, Saskatchewan’s emergency management commissioner, who toured an area spanning Melville to Carnduff earlier in the week. “That doesn’t mean that it’s not bad, but it’s not getting worse.”
McKay said a recovery centre will be established in Melville where residents can access officials with the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation and other provincial ministries and organizations in one location.
McKay said centres will be established in other communities when they’re ready.
In Melville, nursing home residents and hospital patients who had been evacuated were expected to return today.
While the velocity and volume of water in the worst areas is declining, 68 communities remain under states of emergency today as access, natural gas service and potable water remain challenges.
Over 110 communities have contacted the PDAP office with 37 receiving designation under the program. An official with the program said PDAP has received over two dozen other applications. Highway officials have made temporary fixes to some roads that were flooded over or washed out in several areas.
Both lanes on Highway 1 are open again, although there is still water over the road near Wolseley. An updated list of road closures is available at hotline.gov.sk.ca.
For residents with their own private drinking water sources, the provincial health ministry is providing free water testing.
Earlier this week, premier Brad Wall said the potential cost of damages could exceed the $360 million in flood damages from 2011.
Officials remain hesitant to gauge the damage to agricultural land. On Thursday, the Saskatchewan agriculture ministry reported that many fields in the east-central Saskatchewan region of Melville and Yorkton will be unable to recover from excess moisture caused by the massive rainfall.
“It’s been fairly quiet in our offices. We still don’t have a good understanding of the magnitude of the number of claims we’ll have,” said Shawn Jaques of the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.
Officials with the Water Security Agency are monitoring water levels in the Qu’Appelle basin. Round Lake and Crooked Lake are rising and are expected to approach the flood levels of 2011, if not all-time records.
UPDATED – Thursday July 3, 2014 – 9:50 a.m. CST
Dozens of Saskatchewan communities remained under states of emergency Wednesday fallowing a massive rainfall over the weekend.
Access and services to the communities hit hardest by the rain, as high as 240 millimetres in some cases, have yet to be restored, and work to assess the damage to homes and crops has yet to begin.
Margaret Anderson, executive director of the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program in Saskatchewan, says more than 80 communities have already contacted the organization.
In southeastern Saskatchewan, the communities of Gainsborough and Carievale remain cut off, while across the region, some 400 homes are without natural gas service.
An official with SaskPower reports that only a handful of outages remain and crews with the crown corporation have moved into recovery mode and normal operations.
Tuesday July 1, 2014 – 2:00 p.m. CST
Saskatchewan agriculture officials say it’s too soon to tell how crops will come through last weekend’s flooding.
Crop insurance corporation CEO Shawn Jaques said calls from farmers began coming in June 30, mostly from southeast Saskatchewan where as much as 240 millimetres of rain fell.
However, flooding has occurred as far north as the Red Earth First Nation and Shoal Lake areas right down to the U.S. border.
“At this point it’s too early for us to speculate on the magnitude of crop loss,” Jaques said July 1.
He also said some crops could recover depending on how much water they were under and how fast it dries up. The forecast for the rest of this week was for warm dry weather.
June 25 was the deadline to report unseeded acres and that data is still being compiled. Coupled with flood claims, crop insurance staff will be busy.
Premier Brad Wall noted that employees at the crop insurance head office in Melville were taking calls even as their own community was hit hard.
The hospital and long-term care home were evacuated beginning 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning as a precaution.
Health ministry spokesperson Merv Tippe said 24 acute care patients were affected. Nine were moved to Esterhazy, four to Yorkton, two to Ituna and nine discharged.
The 127 residents of the long-term care facility were relocated to the city’s arena and are expected to be moved again to facilities within the Sunrise health region.
Reports that the city’s dam had failed proved to be false.
“The dam itself is holding,” said Water Security Agency spokesperson Patrick Boyle. “The dam has not been breached.”
However, water was flowing around the earthen dam and causing flooding.
Wall and a cabinet committee plan to tour the affected areas on Wednesday.
A total of 53 cities, towns, villages, rural municipalities and First Nations had declared states of emergency as of Tuesday morning. That was up from 36 the day before.
Added to the list were the towns of Carnduff, Lemberg, Wawota and Regina Beach, the villages of Silton, Calder and Storthoaks, the RMs of Antler, Langenburg, Good Lake, Abernethy, Mount Pleasant, Kingsley and Elfros, and the First Nations of Peepeekisis, Kawacatoose and Ochapowace.
Grenfell terminated its emergency declaration Tuesday.
Nineteen sections of highway were under water or compromised by water, leading to lengthy detours. Major blocked routes include the TransCanada between Balgonie and Whitewood, the Yellowhead between Elfros and Dafoe, and Highway 10 from Balcarres to Yorkton.
The highways hotline, not usually staffed in summer, will be operating during the flood so people can call for up-to-date information.
About 250 people evacuated from Gainsborough were still out of their homes, along with five families from Yorkton, five families from Sakimay First Nation and about 50 people from Shoal Lake, who were all in hotels.
Meanwhile, Wall said early estimates — and he stressed both words — indicate this flood could cost more than the $360-million 2011 event because it is more widespread. Of that, the province paid $163 million and Ottawa paid the rest.
“There will be an impact financially,” Wall said. “We have a rainy day fund and we will use it.”
He said the agricultural impact will be large. Officials said there had been no calls about stranded livestock but they will be available to any producers who need help.
No injuries have been reported.
The WSA’s Boyle added that officials are keeping a close eye on the lakes in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Crooked Lake is 1.5 metres higher than its normal summer level and rising rapidly. Round Lake is one metre above its normal level and also rising quickly. Echo and Katepwa lakes are also above normal levels.
Last Mountain Lake is 1.09 metres above its normal level.
Boyle said officials will be revising their estimates as the week goes on.
He said outflows from Alameda Reservoir continue at three cubic metres per second. Rafferty and Boundary are not affected by this event.
Two provincial parks, Good Spirit and Crooked Lake, have been affected and campers are being moved to drier ground. Those who have reservations at any parks in the affected areas should call before heading out.