Farmers evaluating rain damage to crops

Farmers are assessing crops after this week’s heavy rainfalls throughout southern Saskatchewan.

It’s too soon to tell just how much damage was done, but pulse crops will be particularly at risk from sitting in water. Other crops have lodged in the heavy rain and wind.

Rainfall amounts varied widely, and hit 130 millimetres in Estevan Sunday night, but Environment Canada reported 119 mm at Bjorkdale as the highest total from Monday to Wednesday, followed by Pennant at 112 mm, and Zenon Park and an area east of Watrous at 104 mm each.

In the northeastern grain belt, Rural Municipality of Arborfield officials were out today checking flooded fields and roads.

The town and RM of Arborfield, as well as nearby Carrot River and Shoal Lake Cree Nation, have all declared local emergencies.

A holdback road about 14 kilometres south of Arborfield gave way when the culvert couldn’t move water fast enough, sending the water toward the town. About 400 people were ordered to evacuate, but many stayed behind to try to protect their property.

RM administrator Allan Frisky said no farms were evacuated.

However, SaskEnergy spokesperson Casey McLeod said the utility has shut off the natural gas to the entire town and to two farms due to flooding.

ADVERTISMENT

“Once we’ve been given the all-clear, then we can go in and reenergize our system,” she said.

People are advised not to re-light appliances themselves.

Service to rural areas hasn’t been affected otherwise.Drowned canola at the edge of a field east of Saskatoon, July 12. | William Dekay photo Drowned canola at the edge of a field east of Saskatoon, July 12. | William Dekay photo

Water Security Agency communications manager Patrick Boyle said the northeast had received rain in the nine days preceding the larger rainfall, leaving the landscape with no storage and causing the problems.

Burntout Brook, a tributary of the Carrot River near Arborfield, saw record levels and a one-in-200-year flow, as did the Pasquia River, he said. As well, an old Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration dam was spilling over.

In the southeast, where Estevan was the first to declare a local state of emergency on Monday, SaskPower is keeping a careful eye on the coal-mining area outside the city. Media relations manager Jonathan Tremblay said the water was causing slumping and sinkholes and could compromise power poles.

There were no major power outages beyond an initial 4.5 hour loss of power for about 6,000 Estevan customers when the flood first occurred.

ADVERTISMENT

Provincial Disaster Assistance Program executive director Grant Hilsenteger said 15 communities have applied to be eligible for assistance so far: the town and RM of Arborfield, Carrot River, Estevan, the RM of Foam Lake, the city and RM of Humboldt, the RM of Lawtonia, Lloydminster, the RM of Mankota, the RM of Medstead, Meota, Tisdale, Watrous and Yorkton.

Emergency management commissioner Duane McKay said this morning that the situation was improving in most locations. Water was moving on its own or being pumped out of affected areas.

A command post had been established in Arborfield and flood mitigation equipment was moving in.

He added that although only five places had declared emergencies, many people had been affected by localized flooding.

Provincial emergency social services co-ordinator Deanna Valentine said 36 people had registered with the province after being evacuated.

Eleven were staying at a hotel in Estevan, while four from that city were with family. From Arborfield, seven were at a Melfort hotel and three were with family, and 11 people from Shoal Lake were all at a hotel in Prince Albert.

Others did not register for provincial assistance.

ADVERTISMENT

Contact karen.briere@producer.com