North Sask. flooding worst in decades

The worst flooding since the 1970s has hit Highway 165 in the province’s north.

While the road remains open, residents are concerned they’ll be cut off from key resources, noted Candyce Paul, incident commander with the English River First Nation’s emergency management team.

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“That’s our access route south,” she said.

Patrick Boyle, spokesperson for Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency, attributed the flooding to huge amounts of rainfall in the northwest and Alberta, combined with local river systems. 

It marks the worst flooding in the area since 1974, he said.

Boyle said it was nearing its peak on Thursday, with a gradual decline to follow. After that, the system causing the floods is expected to move to Île-à-la-Crosse, where he said the province was working with the mayor to prepare infrastructure for mid-July.

A barrier and erosion control system was installed on Highway 165 to fight flooding, said Steve Shaheen, a spokesman for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure. The road has been brought down to one lane with a traffic light and added weight restrictions on large trucks.

The province will continue to maintain the road until water levels make traffic unsafe. It’s also designing a grade-raise for the area to be constructed at a later date, he said.

“If water levels continue to rise, we would close the road to traffic,” Shaheen said. “Once the water recedes we would then repair and restore traffic as soon as possible.”

Paul said she was concerned about the five area communities’ access to medical services and other resources should the road wash out.

“It would be good to have an idea of what Plan B is if they’re offering any help,” she said. We’ve been isolated during the COVID thing for a month, … locking us in when we didn’t have enough food. People are stressed enough.”

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