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Flash flooding triggers emergency in Estevan, Sask.

City gets 130 millimetres of rain in just over two hours


 

ESTEVAN, Sask. — People in most of southern Saskatchewan are being warned that heavy rain — possibly as much as 100 millimetres — could bring flooding.

A state of emergency was already declared Sunday in Estevan when roads and basements were left under water by storm sewers unable to handle the volume of rain.

Many streets looked like rivers after at least 130 millimetres fell in Estevan in just over two hours.

Emergency management commissioner Duane McKay says officials hope the worst is over for Estevan, although the area remains under a special weather statement.

Some roads also flooded in several other communities, including Lloydminster.

McKay says emergency management is watching a rainfall warning in place from Prince Albert, south to the U.S. border, and he warns communities should be prepared for flooding.

“Obviously, some of these issues will impact individuals, so we’ve notified our provincial disaster assistance team and they are ready to go with any help that municipalities might require there as well,” McKay said Monday in Saskatoon.

McKay also said there’s a large cache of flood equipment, such as barriers and pumps, in the south from flood responses in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

“The province is well provisioned in terms of making sure that, in the event of a flood in any community that requires equipment, the entire equipment from start to finish would be available. And it’s on trailers, so it could be rapidly deployed to particular areas.”

Estevan resident Janet Foord, who was returning home when she was caught driving in the storm, said intersections were flooded and vehicles had water up to their mirrors.

“It took me about 20 minutes to get from the highway to my house, which usually takes about four minutes, just because I couldn’t find a dry spot or a high spot to go down without stalling our vehicle,” said Foord.

The situation in Estevan was “a bit of a personal scare” for her.

A couple of years ago, Foord said, she got caught in a flash flood in Minot, N.D. Her vehicle got stuck in an intersection and she couldn’t get the windows down to escape because the power shorted out.

The water was getting higher, but a couple of people jumped in to push her vehicle out, she recalled.

Foord said her neighbours’ homes are flooded and the underground parking garage in a condo behind her house is completely submerged.

“You could see stuff floating as I walked by.”

By mid-day Monday, there were mattresses out on lawns and garbage bins were being filled with soggy household items.

People trying to get water out of their basements also faced a challenge when the power went out Sunday, because they needed generators to run their sump pumps, Foord said.

SaskPower spokesman Jonathan Tremblay said the storm took out a transformer for about half the city’s 11,000 residents.

Most of the power was restored in about 4 1/2 hours, Tremblay said. But as of Monday there were still outages “here and there” because poles were in water or lines were knocked down by branches.

“It’s slow going to send crews out and safely repair those things, especially with all the water on the ground,” he said.


 
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