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Lumsden declares states of emergency
Ken Gousseau, CTV Regina
Published Friday, April 15, 2011 3:56PM CST
Saskatchewan flood forecasters are predicting a dramatic rise in river flows through Lumsden after states of emergency were declared in the town and surrounding area.
The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority now says flows on the Qu'Appelle River at Lumsden are expected to surge to 400 cubic metres a second from 270.
Officials say water could start flowing across Highway 11, the main highway connecting Regina and Saskatoon.
Floodwaters from the swelling Moose Jaw River are expected to reach Lumsden within the next two days.
Officials are planning to release some of the water into the Nicole Flats near Moose Jaw, which is home to a wetland area.
"What that's going to do is help us mitigate some of the downstream peaks," said John Fahlman, acting director of basin operations at the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.
Levels on lakes in the Qu'Appelle Valley are expected to rise another one to two metres in the coming days. Municipalities in the area are urging cabin and cottage owners to use sandbags to protect their properties from flooding.
"In a worst-case scenario, some of these higher flows from the upper end of the basin are going to get downstream at the same time that the melt from the snow that's still in the lower part of basin along the Manitoba border and the eastern side happens," said Fahlman.
"It's prudent to prepare for that."
Local states of emergency are still in effect in the town of Radville, the Cowessess First Nation, the village of Abernethy and the Rural Municipalities of Estevan, Laurier and Elfros.
About 125 people are still evacuated from their homes on the Cowessess First Nation.
"We have a fairly well-coordinated effort to date in terms of trying to respond to the level of emergency that is there," said public safety spokesman Duane McKay.
"The cooler weather has given us a bit of a chance to take a breath."
In Moose Jaw, city officials are expecting further flooding, which could force the closure of some major streets in the community. Additional sandbags have been placed around some homes and city infrastructure.
Meanwhile, sandbag dikes are being built up higher in Regina as city officials prepare for a larger surge of floodwater than earlier expected.
The watershed authority now says the city could see water levels rise one metre higher. Such levels haven't been seen in Regina since 1974.
In response, city crews are adding one-quarter metre of height to sandbag dikes to allow for a 30-centimetre buffer above expected water levels.
The additional sandbags are expected to be in place within the next week.
The city has already deployed more than 40,000 sandbags to protect low-lying areas from floodwaters. Another 20,000 sandbags have been filled and the city plans to double that stockpile.
Most of the sandbag dikes are set up along the south side of Wascana Creek between Albert Street and Pasqua Street.
Water is currently being allowed to flow over the banks of the creek and onto the surrounding flood plain.
Levels on Wascana Lake are expected to peak near the end of next week, depending on the weather.
In the Estevan area, water levels are holding in the Boundary Reservoir, which is now spilling at 130 cubic metres a second from 150.
Officials say the reduced flow from the reservoir should provide a much-needed break to residents in low-lying areas downstream, who have been fighting floodwaters for the past several days.