Flood emergencies continue in Saskatchewan
By Jennifer Graham The Canadian Press
May 2, 2013, Regina, SK - The number of Saskatchewan communities under flood emergencies has grown and officials warn there's more water to come with the snow melt.
The rural municipality of Wilton, near Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan-Alberta boundary, was the ninth community to declare a state of emergency.
Colder-than-normal temperatures this spring delayed the runoff, but the Water Security Agency said Thursday that will change in the coming days.
"We're expecting a lot of the province is going to see the snow start to melt this weekend," said agency spokesman Patrick Boyle.
Emergency declarations were already in place in the towns of Maidstone and Radisson, the village of Borden, the rural municipalities of Great Bend and Elfros and on the Poundmaker, Sakimay and Onion Lake reserves.
Many roads in those regions were overtopped with water - some were washed away. Volunteers filled sandbags in an efforts to save homes.
The Social Services Department said Thursday that about 75 people were out of their homes on the Poundmaker reserve and 200 were on alert to leave their homes in Onion Lake.
Radisson, northwest of Saskatoon, declared an emergency Monday because of localized flooding.
Boyle said water levels in Radisson went down slightly overnight Wednesday, but there's still 70 to 80 per cent snow cover in the area.
"It largely depends on the weather and when it comes through, but you know we're going to see more water move through the system there. How much and how fast that will melt is depending on the weather."
Wascana Lake in Regina is expected to rise just over a metre starting this weekend as temperatures warm up.
Boyle said Wascana is expected to reach 571.8 metres. That's higher than the flood level in 2011, but lower than the record flood of 1974. The normal summer water level in Wascana is 570.5 metres.
Flooding has already led to the evacuation of the young offender Dojack Youth Centre in Regina, because of concerns about a creek bridge leading to the facility.
The Water Security Agency has said the entire southern half of the province will see runoff levels above or well-above normal.
Runoff is expected to be very high and flooding is likely to occur from Moose Jaw to Indian Head, including Regina, and south past Weyburn to near the United States border. Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford are in the red zone as well.
That's because there was more snow than normal in many areas of Saskatchewan this winter.
"Because we are in somewhat of an uncharted territory this late in the season, because the first week of May here, this is the latest we've actually been on having the majority of our spring runoff," Boyle said.
"We're watching that and all the areas across the province and we know it's going to be a busy weekend."