An official with Saskatchewan's watershed authority says a rainstorm that's forced the evacuation of a mobile home park and threatens to flood more homes downstream is the closest thing you can get to a flash flood on the Prairies.
"As Prairie hydrology goes, it's as flashy as it ever gets," John Fahlman told reporters during a news conference Saturday morning.
Mr. Fahlman says the only thing that stopped the water from moving any faster is that the land is flat.
Up to 75 millimetres of rain that fell on the province's southeast over the past day has caused significant swelling of the Souris River.
In the small village of Roche Percee, an evacuation order was issued on Saturday afternoon. The mayor, Reg Jahn, said he didn't believe the village's existing dikes would hold back the deluge and that even extra sandbags wouldn't help.
Mr. Jahn said that's because if the water got so high that sandbags were necessary, the village of about 150 has been told the railway bridge on the north side of town could wash out.
"If the bridge collapsed it would plug the river and we would lose the whole town," Mr. Jahn said. "We lose either way."
The province says it has to release water from several dams because the levels in their reservoirs at near maximum allowable levels, and the extra flow downstream is expected to cause flooding.
In Estevan, which bills itself as "The Sunshine Capital of Saskatchewan," an evacuation alert has been issued for a trailer park. The municipality says it will alert residents of the park if the evacuation becomes mandatory by sounding the sirens from fire and police vehicles.
Duane McKay with Saskatchewan's emergency response department says warnings have been sent out to all the communities that might be affected, and that emergency dikes could be set up where necessary.
"Works that were either in place will be shored up, or additional works will be put in place - sandbagging, water tubes, whatever is required to see if we can mitigate the high flow that's coming out of the reservoirs," he said.
Earlier Saturday, firefighters needed a boat to rescue about 30 people from a mobile home park on the outskirts of Weyburn, where the water was over a metre deep and was up to the floors of many of the trailers.
"Some of the folks were definitely getting nervous. We've had water problems basically throughout the spring but not this severe," says fire chief Steve Debienne.
"Due to the running water, there was a slight current in the area. It took crews about an hour to get people out of the area and into the shelter."
The city's sewage lift station has also overflowed and municipal officials are advising residents to boil their water, just to be on the safe side. A power outage in the area overnight due to high winds made dealing with the situation even tougher, the province says.
Homes have also flooded in the communities of Radville and Yellow Grass.
More rain is in the forecast, and flood officials in Saskatchewan say they are also waiting to see how much extra water will flow into the province from Alberta, particularly from the North Saskatchewan River around Edmonton where it has been raining heavily for several days.
Heavier-than-normal flows on the North Saskatchewan kept a number of firefighters busy in Edmonton on Saturday morning when the strong current is reported to have caused several dragon boats, which are used for racing in the summer, to break away and drift downstream.
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