Rising river levels force flood preps for homes, roads

By Thia James
June 27, 2013 - 6:29am Updated: June 27, 2013 - 2:30pm

The City of Prince Albert is preparing for potential flooding in higher risk areas as the river is expected to rise to peak levels on Thursday.

The city will sandbag catchbasins along Macdowall Crescent and along 15th Avenue between Second and Fourth Streets.

As a precautionary measure, the city and the Prince Albert Fire Department are contacting residents on the south side of Riverside Drive, Highway 55 East and select residents in Little Red River Park.

On Wednesday, the city issued two separate warnings to residents that they may have to leave their homes if there is flooding.

“This does not mean these specific residents must evacuate right now,” said Prince Albert Fire Chief and EMO Coordinator in a statement. “We are advising residents in identified areas of the city of the rising water levels so they can prepare to evacuate if it becomes necessary to do so. This notice is a proactive action to ensure safety of citizens in these particular sections of the city.”

The city asked residents in these high-risk areas to gather their medical and insurance information, as well as essential contact numbers. They're also being asked to ensure family members know about the evacuation warning and to make arrangements to find shelter for their pets.

The Province of Saskatchewan is undertaking work to mitigate the dual effects of flooding and ground water buildup on roads and homes around the Prince Albert area.

It’s trying to maintain roads in rural municipalities, which in some instances, as Duane McKay, commissioner of emergency management and fire safety for government relations said, have been giving way at the base. The province has also been assisting with building berms.

There has been a buildup of standing water in the Prince Albert area, McKay pointed to during a Wednesday morning conference call.

“What we’ve seen in the last couple of days [is] there are people that perhaps were at risk when the water was first coming down … as a result of the melt or as a result of the heavy rains that we’ve had in from that area.”

He said that in many cases, mitigation work would include maintaining roads or trying to get them opened up.

The efforts come as the Prince Albert area is expecting to see a deluge of water flowing through this stretch of the North Saskatchewan River Thursday afternoon. Flows will be more than five times the average amount that usually flows through the river.

Wednesday also brought about 25 millimetres of rain to Prince Albert, which added more moisture to the ground, which is already saturated with water.

McKay said this is causing a bit of difficulty in that area. “If you recall, this is the area that had a significant snowfall and runoff in the spring. What we’re seeing there is that the ground is quite saturated. Most of the holding areas for water are full, and so water flow and standing water are an issue and impacting rural municipality roads.

“And we’re still doing some mitigative work in those areas as homes and other properties are impacted by the continual standing water. So, a lot of seepage into basements, and so on.”

He said a lot of the homes that will be affected are in the RM of Buckland, but as the North Saskatchewan River begins to rise, there’ll be concern around the Shell River as it enters the North Saskatchewan.

The RM of Kinistino, Fish Creek and James Smith First Nation could all be affected.

“So, our folks here are in continual contact with those individuals in those communities, the leaders there and we are seeing movement of equipment and personnel in those areas on a fairly regular basis to mitigate and assist where necessary,” McKay said.

He noted the possibility that some homes could be flooded, so the province is monitoring that potential and keeping in contact with individuals who may be affected.

As basins begin to fill, water levels rise, McKay said. As the water fills up in the basins, homes that may have been safe up until now could now be at risk from ground or over-land water.

McKay said the province is looking at rolling out sandbagging and water tubing work to mitigate the effects of flooding.

He said the province was out at the Wahpeton Dakota Nation near Shell River, and locations in an area between Blaine Lake to Kinistino.

But because there’s a lot of moisture in the ground, it has caused the water tables to rise significantly and has damaged roads.

“So, what we’re hearing from rural municipalities is that some of the base of the roads is kind of giving away, so a lot of work done just trying to maintain roads so that people can have access.”

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On Twitter: @thiajames

PHOTOS: Riverside Drive residents not concerned with flood warning

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